IMPORTANT ADMISSIONS TERMS
Colleges use various admissions timelines to review applications and admit students. Generally, admissions plans fall into one of four categories:
Regular admission: You apply by a certain deadline, receive your decision by early April, and make your decision about where to attend by May 1. Public schools tend to only offer regular admission or rolling admission.
Rolling admission: Under rolling admissions, colleges make and announce admissions decisions as applications come in. You apply and usually receive an admissions decision within two to six weeks from the time you submit your application. If you are applying to a rolling admissions school, it is usually best to get your application in as soon as the school begins accepting applications (for some schools it is as early as October 1), because there are usually fewer admissions spots still open later in the admissions cycle. If you are admitted at a rolling admission school, you do not have to decide whether to attend until May 1.
Early Action: Under this plan, you apply early in the fall (usually by November 1 or 15). The college will tell you its decision early as well, usually by early to mid-January, but you don’t have to decide whether to attend until May 1. This gives you time to compare other admissions and financial aid offers. Most colleges that offer early action plans do not have any restrictions on whether you can apply to other schools under other plans. However, a handful of colleges and universities use what is called Single Choice Early Action. Under Single Choice Early Action, you can only apply early to one school. You can, however, still apply under rolling admissions or regular decision plans.
Early Decision: Early decision is a “binding” admissions program, so it is particularly important to understand how it works and to be absolutely sure that you want to enroll at that college. As with Early Action plans, you submit your application early in the fall, and receive an admissions decision in either December or early January. However, if you apply under Early Decision, you promise that you will attend if admitted, and that you will also withdraw all applications from other colleges. Additionally, you can only apply to one school using Early Decision. A handful of colleges also restrict Early Decision applicants from applying Early Action anywhere. If you are accepted through Early Decision, you must submit your enrollment deposit within a few weeks of acceptance. You can only be released from an Early Decision admission if the college is unable to meet your demonstrated financial need. An important disadvantage of Early Decision is that you can not compare financial aid packages from other colleges – if the college meets your family’s demonstrated need, you must attend, even if you might have received more money or less loans elsewhere.
TYPES OF COLLEGES
Liberal arts colleges are four-year colleges that focus solely on undergraduate education. Don’t let the “arts” in liberal arts fool you into thinking liberal arts colleges are only for arts majors, however. Liberal arts colleges offer majors in a variety of subjects, and many are very strong in the sciences. (Examples: Occidental College, Pomona College, Middlebury College)
Research universities are universities which have a focus on research and education through the doctoral level. They typically offer a large number of majors at the undergraduate level, including some in very specialized academic areas. The UC schools are classified as research universities. Specialized colleges and universities are schools that specialize in a particular subject or field. For example, Harvey Mudd College (California), MIT, CalTech and Rennselear Polytechnic Institute (NY) specialize in science and engineering education. Babson College and Bentley College in Massachusetts specialize in business education. The California Institute of the Arts (CA) and Juillard School (NY) offer specialized programs in art, music, dance, and film.
Religiously-affiliated colleges and universities are schools that have a tie to a particular religion. You do not have to be a member of the religion to attend. Some religiously-affiliated schools heavily integrate religious principles and beliefs into the classroom; others do not. In San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University and the University of San Diego are both religiously-affiliated.
Single sex colleges are all-female or all-male colleges. They can offer leadership and academic opportunities that may not be available in a co-ed environment. Although there are close to 100 all female schools, there are currently only two four year all-male colleges. In California, Mills College and Scripps College are all-female. Deep Springs College, a unique two-year college, is all-male.
Military Academies include West Point (Army), the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, as well as other military focused colleges. They offer both career training in preparation for a career in the military and excellent education in more traditional academic areas, especially engineering. Some colleges with a military focus do not require you to pursue a military career after graduation. Examples are The Citadel (SC), the California Maritime Academy (CA) and Norwich University (VT). These schools offer military training, but also offer engineering and science at the same time.