Senior Spotlight: Early Deadlines Stress Seniors

Anna Albergo, Editor in Chief

As fall approaches and the CommonApp takes over the lives of seniors at Dulaney, it is clear that the college application season is back again. On top of their senior year course load, extracurriculars, and internships, seniors are feeling the extra pressure of making pivotal life decisions. In recent years, the college application process has increasingly gained intensity with the addition of early deadlines meant to help students gain access to scholarships and enjoy the second half of their senior year. It’s no longer as simple as one January 1 deadline. Although the early deadlines are meant to foster simplicity, they are merely contributing additional stress to the college application process. 

A survey was given to Dulaney seniors asking what deadlines they are applying at; 23.5% of seniors are applying early decision and 58.8% are applying to at least one college or university early action. Early decision is binding meaning that if you are accepted, you are expected to attend regardless of other acceptances.  Early action, the more popular option amongst Dulaney seniors, requires early submission of the application but isn’t binding. At many colleges and universities, applicants have a better chance of acceptance if they apply early and are automatically considered for additional benefits such as scholarships and honors programs. For example, at the University of Maryland (UMD) applicants are given “priority consideration” for admission, merit-based scholarships, and honors living and learning programs. 

For seniors, it is evident after perusing through colleges of interest that early deadlines are the ideal deadlines to apply to. The scholarships and honors opportunities make early deadlines very attractive for students to the point that students feel left behind if they don’t apply early. The survey of Dulaney seniors showed that 65.6% of seniors feel that they are at a disadvantage if they don’t apply early.

 Their feelings are supported by admission statistics. According to College Transitions, UMD’s early action applicant pool had an acceptance rate of 59.4% which is significantly higher than the overall 44% acceptance rate. Of the students that chose to attend UMD, 97.3% were accepted at the early action deadline.

These statistics reflect a problem because they show that early deadlines have become a requirement rather than a preference. Although they were originally intended to give students a chance to get applications out of the way, they are now pressuring the entire applicant pool to act sooner. In a process that is already stressful for so many students, it is unnecessary to push deadlines earlier.