Is it Bad to Apply for Regular Decision?

July 28, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Is it Bad to Apply for Regular Decision?

We have argued for a number of years that the most significant error one can make in the admissions process for highly selective colleges is to not submit a college application during the Early Decision / Early Action round. So, Is it bad to apply for Regular Decision?

When applying to colleges, students might find themselves asking themselves what kind of application they should submit. You weren’t aware that there was more than one way to submit an application to a college, were you? There are a few different options, including Regular Decision, Early Action, and Early Decision. What exactly is the difference, and why is it significant?

What Does Regular Decision Mean?

What Does Regular Decision Mean? The application deadline for Regular Decision is typically on January 1st of each year. If you choose to apply using the Regular Decision process, this indicates that you will not be submitting your application during the early round. Instead, you will receive notification of the admissions committee’s decision in the spring, typically between the months of late March and early April.

Female student typing in her desk.

The applicant pool for Regular Decision tends to be larger because this is the general applicant pool for the upcoming year. However, the admit rate for Regular Decision tends to be lower than the admit rate for Early Decision or Early Action because of the volume of applications that are being considered during this round.

Regular Decision Pros

Is it bad to apply for Regular Decision? Applicants who choose to submit their applications through the Regular Decision process will have until a later date to do so (typically anywhere from early December to late January).

If you intend to retake the ACT or SAT in order to achieve a higher score and thereby improve your chances of being accepted to a college or become eligible for a greater number of scholarships, this may be the most beneficial choice for you to make. Applying to colleges through the Regular Decision process gives applicants additional time to polish their college essays.

If you are unsure of what you want to major in and need more time to make a decision, going the Regular Decision route for your college application may be the best option for you. However, you also have the option of applying as undecided and deciding what you want to study once you are enrolled in college.

In a nutshell, Regular Decision grants you the ability to do the following:

  • Extended deadlines for scholarship applications, allowing students more time to improve their ACT scores and potentially qualify for more financial aid
  • If you haven’t made up your mind about where you want to go, this will give you more time to deliberate on the matter.
  • There is no pressure to make an early commitment if you are accepted.
  • You have the ability to compare the aid packages provided by various educational institutions

Consequences of Regular Decisions

When you apply to a college or university using the Regular Decision option, it is possible that you will not receive a response until the spring or until the end of the academic year.

When you realize that you will need to start packing your bags to go somewhere in about three months, this may cause the graduation season to be a little bit more hectic for you. this answers if is it bad to apply for Regular Decision. The stress of deciding where to attend college in the late spring, when AP exams and finals are also taking place, could potentially be compounded by making that decision.

Male student looking up at the camera while taking a test.

Therefore, the disadvantage of applying through the Regular Decision process is as follows:

  • The colleges will not respond to your application until much later in the spring.
  • You have a lot going on this time of year, what with planning your graduation, taking exams, and attending other events, on top of applying to schools.
  • Since everyone else is submitting their applications at the moment, it may be more difficult to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

Why Should you Apply to College Early?

Why should you apply to college early? The acceptance rates of students who submitted their applications during the early action and early decision rounds were significantly higher than those of students who submitted their applications during the regular decision round. It is important to check the admissions requirements of each college you are interested in attending because different colleges have varying admissions requirements for early applicants.

Students who excel academically are more likely to submit their applications early. People who apply early typically have a strong interest in attending a particular university, which almost ensures that they will take up the study spot if they are offered it.

The application deadline for the majority of the most selective colleges in the country falls somewhere between the end of December and the middle of February on a yearly basis. The majority also have a deadline for applicants who wish to participate in Early Action or Early Decision, which is typically around the beginning of November. This article examines some of the benefits of applying to college through one of these early admission programs, as well as a couple of the drawbacks associated with doing so.

  • Submitting your application to a selective institution through the Early Decision or Early Action program can frequently more than double your chances of being accepted.
  • Early applicants make up more than forty percent of the student body at many of the nation’s most prestigious educational institutions.
  • Applicants who choose Early Decision make a binding promise to enroll in the institution to which they have applied, meaning that they forfeit the opportunity to comparison shop for the most advantageous terms of financial aid.

What Exactly Is Meant by the Terms “Early Action” and “Early Decision”?

It is essential to be aware that the Early Action and Early Decision admission programs differ in significant ways, including the following:

  • Early Action is one of the most appealing choices because it enables students to submit applications to an unlimited number of schools, and even if they are accepted to one of those schools, they are not required to take up enrollment there. The first of May is the deadline for students to decide whether or not they will attend.
  • Single-Choice Early Action: Just like with Early Action, applicants who use Single-Choice Early Action are under no obligation to enroll at the school even if they are offered admission. As is the case with Early Action, prospective students have until May 1 to make a determination.

In contrast to regular Early Action, early application programs limit applicants to submitting their information to a single college (but you can apply to other schools through non-binding regular admission programs). Because of this restriction, the college is able to get a more accurate assessment of the applicant’s level of demonstrated interest than would be possible through the Early Action program.

  • Early Decision is the early admission program that is the most binding and restrictive, and it is also the most restrictive of the early admission programs. You are only permitted to submit an application to a single college through this early admission program. If you are selected to attend this college, you will be required to abandon all of your other college admissions attempts and enroll. Students who aren’t sure which college they want to attend shouldn’t use the Early Decision application process.

Does Applying Early Improve Your Chances?

Does Applying Early Improve Your Chances? When asked, colleges will tell you that they admit students to their Early Action and Early Decision programs using the same standards, or even higher standards, than those used for traditional admissions. This is probably accurate, but only on some levels.

Using a laptop while on a desk near a window.

The brightest and most interested students typically submit their applications first. Students who did not meet the criteria for early admission will typically be added to the regular admission pool, and the decision regarding early admission will be postponed hence answering the question “Is it bad to apply for Regular Decision”. Students who are obviously not qualified to be admitted will not be deferred but rather rejected from the program.

In spite of what colleges claim, the actual admission numbers show that your chances of being admitted are significantly higher if you apply through an Early Action or Early Decision program. This holds true whether the program is called Early Action or Early Decision.

Early applicants are favored by colleges

Early applicants make up well over forty percent of each class at a number of the nation’s most prestigious educational institutions, including all of the Ivies. There are several compelling reasons why schools behave in this manner:

  • Those who apply early are highly motivated.
  • Applicants who want to get in early need to be well-organized in order to have their applications ready by the beginning of November (or earlier).
  • The early applicants are demonstrating their dedication to the institution. Submitting an application in a timely manner is a significant indicator of a student’s level of interest.
  • The college will have a better idea of how large its incoming class will be earlier in the year, which will reduce the amount of unpredictability in the spring.

The Benefits of Submitting Your College Application Early, Either for Early Action or Early Decision

  • Take steps to increase your chances of being accepted.
  • Illustrate that you are enthusiastic about attending a certain college.
  • Find out the outcome of your admission decision before Christmas; if it’s positive, you’ll spare yourself the anxiety of a stressful spring.

Moreover, it will let you have:

Less Stress

Because colleges typically communicate their decisions to early applicants in the month of November, you will have a shorter wait time for a decision than your peers. In addition, it’s likely that you won’t apply to as many colleges in the early rounds, which means you’ll only have to respond to a smaller number of essay prompts and also answer the question “ Is it bad to apply for Regular Decision”.

You’ll Spend Less Money and Save Time

You will save time and money filling out individual applications because you are not applying to as many colleges as other students are. This not only frees you up financially, but also means that you have the flexibility to focus all of your energy on submitting an application for one of the top jobs.

More Length of Time to Get Ready for College

If you are accepted to the college that is at the top of your list, then your search for colleges is over! Before starting college, you will have additional time at your disposal to make arrangements regarding housing, classes, and moving.

Young woman holding her bag while walking.

Reevaluate, and Consider Applying It Elsewhere

You are free to submit applications to other educational institutions in the event that you are not accepted into the college of your choice. You will find the application process to be less challenging because you already have experience completing applications, and you are prepared with all of the fundamental information that is required.

The Drawbacks of Applying Too Early

  • If you apply using Early Decision, you are required to attend the school.
  • If you make your college choice early, you won’t be able to compare different types of financial aid packages, and you’ll have less negotiating power over the aid you receive.
  • You should have your application in its final form two months earlier than the standard applicants do.
  • If you plan to take the SAT or ACT after October, you probably won’t have enough time to apply early enough to be considered.

Who Should Not Submit an Early Application and Why?

Due to the fact that each prospective student is unique, there is no single approach that can be guaranteed to be successful for all of them. In point of fact, there are a few situations in which students ought to reevaluate their intentions to submit an Early Decision or Early Action application.

Your grades are not where they should be and you need to work on that.

When reviewing applications, college admissions officers place the most weight on a student’s academic performance in the form of grades. To be competitive in the early applicant pool, you need to have a high-grade point average as well as strong performance in your junior year.

If you had some difficulty in the previous year, your junior year, you will need to demonstrate that you are on an upward grade trend during the first semester of your senior year. This will increase the likelihood that you will be accepted in the regular admissions round.

However, delaying your application for Regular Decision is only beneficial if you intend to improve your grades during the upcoming academic year.

It is important to have a solid understanding of how your applicant profile compares to students who have previously been admitted, and if your grades are not competitive, you may need to reevaluate the colleges you plan to apply to as well as the strategy you will use to apply to them.

You, Will, Need to Retake Either the SAT or the ACT

Test-optional admissions have been gaining popularity, particularly over the past few months as a result of the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, which has led many colleges to choose to suspend SAT and ACT requirements for admission.

As a result of the fact that more than 65 percent of these schools have decided to continue their test-optional policies for the 2021-2022 application cycle, there is a possibility that some students will opt out of taking any tests at all.

However, if you plan on submitting a test score as part of your application, it is essential to ensure that your performance falls within the range of students who are accepted at the college that is the best fit for you. If it does not, you will not be considered. If your scores aren’t quite up to the standard, you should probably think about retaking the SAT or ACT and applying during the regular rounds if you want to give it another shot.

You Have Not Been to Any Colleges Yet, Right?

The process of researching colleges involves a number of steps, one of which is visiting colleges. If you have not yet visited your Early Decision or Early Action college, you should make it a priority to do so. Because of the pandemic, it hasn’t always been possible for students to visit their colleges in person. As a result, many educational institutions have begun offering students the opportunity to virtually tour their campuses instead.

It is up to you to decide whether you will go to the campus in person or observe it from a distance now that tours of the campuses are beginning to be offered again.

Three women talking in a table.

It is critical that you pay a visit to the institution that would be your first choice for higher education regardless of the path that you ultimately decide to pursue. Not only will visiting the school further demonstrate your interest in attending, but it will also assist you in putting together the best application possible in the event that they ask school-specific essay questions.

Students who are interested in attending college should also keep in mind that Early Decision options are binding, which means that they really need to be certain that the school in question is the one they want to attend before applying to it. You can get a better sense of whether or not that particular school is right for you by paying them a visit in person.

You have not yet begun your application, which is required.

It is not a good idea to start working on your essays or to request recommendation letters in the week that is immediately preceding the deadline for early applications. In a competitive early-round pool, you can’t afford to make any mistakes, and submitting an application at the last minute increases the risk that it will be sloppy or incomplete.

It takes some time to put together an application that is thorough and compelling, and admissions officers are able to tell when an application is hastily put together or an afterthought. Instead of rushing to finish an early application before the deadline at midnight, you should take your time to put together a really strong application for the regular decision.

You Are Not Certain That This School Should Be Your First Choice

If you are granted admission during the Early Decision round, you are required to attend the university if you accept their offer of enrollment. The decision to back out of your Early Decision commitment for a reason other than having insufficient financial aid can have a significant impact on your reputation at other educational institutions to which you apply.

This is a very serious matter. Follow your instincts and submit an Early Decision application to the college of your choice if you are on the fence about doing so. Do not submit an application unless you are one hundred percent certain that you want to attend that particular school.

Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Decision. Which One Is Best for You?

It does not hurt to submit an application for early acceptance as long as you are aware of the steps involved and the level of commitment required. First things first: before you even start the application process, you need to do some research. Pick out the college (or colleges) of your dreams.

Which of these colleges would be a good fit for you, both academically and socially? You should achieve or exceed the college’s profile in terms of SAT/ACT scores, grade point average, and class rank, and ideally, you should have a strong academic record.

If you are applying for an early decision, you should double-check that the schools on your list are ones that you truly want to attend. You are obligated to accept a place on the early decision college’s campus if one is offered to you.

Looking for help with the college admissions process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey from search, and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation, and final school selection. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

We are able to assist you in preparing your admission requirements. AdmissionSight will assist you throughout the entirety of the admissions process in order to increase your chances of gaining entry into an Ivy League institution.



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