How The Different College Application Deadlines Can Impact Your Student and Financial Aid

College application deadlines are not the most exciting topic to consider as your teen prepares for college during high school, but it’s a very important topic one. It’s important because it can make a big difference in terms of what you pay for college as well as impact your student’s chances on getting admitted.

Each year there are different application deadlines that your teen can use for their applications for college. They sound similar, so it can be confusing to understand how they are different. I’ll explain how they can impact your teen and their college future.

One of the deadlines is simply the regular decision deadline that happens every year,  usually around January. The thing to remember is that application deadlines are very unforgiving, so your teen needs to make sure that they meet that deadline.

Regular decision is a standard deadline, and another deadline you may hear about is the “rolling deadline”. The rolling deadline means that your teen can submit their application at any time. Usually they’ll get a notice back of a decision about three or four weeks later (but sometimes it could be sooner, depending on the time of year).

The rolling deadline is one that doesn’t have a specific date. So, it could start perhaps as soon as October and keep going until the final deadline, which means that all the applications have to be in by that time. Or it can be set to go as late as the spring of senior year.

Now that we’ve covered standard and rolling deadlines, I want to review two other deadlines that can be a bit confusing because they start with the same word. One of these deadlines is the “early action deadline”. Early action is non-binding, which means that your teen can apply to an early action deadline and usually they’ll find out the decision perhaps around December. It gives them a little bit of ease, especially if they do get admitted, because they’ll know pretty much where their application stands. Then, if they want to apply to some additional colleges, they still have time to do that under the regular deadline.

The fourth deadline I want to talk about also starts with early, and it’s called “early decision deadline”. Early decision is more strict because this deadline is binding. Every year, there are a lot of families that will apply under the early decision deadline. With the early decision deadline, because it’s binding, you cannot apply to any other colleges that have any type of restrictive deadlines. You want to make sure that you read the fine print on that.

The early decision deadline is one that the parents have to sign off on. Also, the school counselor will be notified as well. The key thing with the early decision deadline is that it means that if your teen is admitted, they must go to that college, regardless of financial aid. This is where sometimes I will see families who decide to do the early decision deadline, because that’s the only one that a particular college offers for them (either early decision or regular).

Generally with the earlier application rounds, the admissions rate is a bit more favorable. Families that want to make sure that their teen has the best shot in terms of admissions will often go ahead and exercise that option to use the early decision deadline. But soon after, if the decision comes back positive in December, you have a short window of time to withdraw all of your other applications and to submit your deposit to hold your space.

That’s a really serious deadline. Sometimes families will say, “Oh, I didn’t know. I thought we would be eligible for financial aid.” They get a surprise that they don’t get any additional aid and then it’s trying to figure out, “Okay, how do we pay for it?”

It’s a deadline that I wouldn’t take lightly. It’s certainly your family’s choice if you decide to do the early decision round, but know that it means that your teen will be going if they get admitted, regardless of what the financial aid is.

At least with the early action option, you have a chance to look through the financial aid offers from other colleges as well. On the flipside, some colleges will offer only the early decision deadline, and then others may have an early action, or they can also have an early decision as well. So you want to be sure you know the deadlines for your student’s college of choice when they begin applying!

One thing I will add about the very late regular decision deadlines is that sometimes colleges will say the deadline is June 1st. They will be filling those seats before then,  so for colleges that may have a very late regular decision deadline doesn’t mean that you can apply on May 31st still find seats available. It’s a point to keep that in mind when your student is scheduling when to submit applications.

Do you have questions about application deadlines and helping your student get into their dream school? Application deadlines can make a big difference in terms of what you could end up paying. In some cases, it can also make a difference as to where your teen gets admitted. I look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or thought about the process!

If you’re a parent of a high school student preparing for college, I have created a free online training class that answers the most common questions I get from parents: “How to Find The Right College.” It offers insight into the college application process as well as how to get money for college. You can check it out and register for it HERE.

Getting your first job after College Graduation and What to expect

College graduates of 2012 are expected to have better-hiring success than the previous classes from 2008 to 2011. Although college graduates reportedly earn close to $1 million more than high school graduates over a lifetime, the landscape for recent college graduates looks a lot different than a generation ago. Here are some key differences that graduates should anticipate:

Delayed gratification – The first job out of college may not be an immediate reward. Graduates may start in a field that’s unexpected, outside of their expressed interests.

Return to graduate school – Remember the phrase about “the new” black and all it implies . . . . well, a master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree! And that implies that graduate school will become more important to career advancement.

Multiple jobs – The days of working for one company from college graduation to retirement are so 1980’s. Today’s graduates are more likely to work for many companies and have many types of jobs over their professional life.

A recent survey of job growth shows that sales jobs are abundant. Many college graduates, however, are not as interested in a sales job. It may not be the most glamorous job, but college graduates shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss a sales job. I have found in my career and numerous job changes that sales are a skill that never fades. Many of my colleagues who have been most successful in their careers started with sales training. Sales skills are invaluable to almost every job and life. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly selling my services and myself. College graduates should not consider a sales job as just “better than no job” but it’s a job where you can learn some valuable skills that will last you throughout your professional journey.


College-bound families discover that Harvard is cheaper than UC, Cal State and other Public colleges


In our recent posting on “Why Scholarships searches are a waste of time,” we mentioned that families shouldn’t fear the sticker shock of private colleges. The hidden truth is that many of these colleges have more scholarship support than other colleges, particularly your public colleges with a lower price tag.

In the last several years, college-bound families have discovered this fact in March of senior year. (March is the most popular month for admissions/financial award notifications.) When families compare award packages and calculate the figures, it’s been less expensive for their teen to enroll at a private college that offered merit aid than to attend an in-state college close to home.

This recent article confirms what college-bound families often discover too late in the process:

Top private schools, with their generous aid, have been among the most affordable options for students for a few years, but rising tuition has only recently sent California State University and University of California prices shooting past the Harvards and Yales for middle-class students.

The revelation comes as thousands of college and university students on Monday march to protest budget cuts in Sacramento that have forced up tuition and shaken campuses.

It’s almost unthinkable in a state that once practically gave away college educations.

“We are coming close to pricing out many of our middle-class students,” said Rhonda Johnson, Cal State East Bay’s financial-aid director. “Now we’re seeing a disadvantaged middle class.” . . . .

Consider a family of four — married parents, a high-school senior and a 14-year-old child — making $130,000 a year.

With typical aid, the family should expect to pay nearly $24,000 for a Cal State freshman’s tuition, on-campus room and board, supplies and other expenses. At Harvard? Just $17,000, even though its stated annual tuition is $36,305.

The same family would pay about $33,000 for a freshman year at UC Santa Cruz.

UC Berkeley, which recently followed the lead of private colleges by boosting aid for middle-class families, would cost $19,500. . . .

Add to the equation that students at smaller private colleges often can graduate sooner, saving thousands of dollars over California’s public universities, where cuts have made it difficult to get all required classes in four years.

via Believe it: Harvard cheaper than Cal State – San Jose Mercury News.

Again, college graduation in four years is a great way to save on college investment. However, families must remember that college graduation begins in high school preparation, and the application process proceeds with a focus on fit – academic, social, and financial – for each college on the list. Please contact us if you have more questions about “fit” and why it matters. We love talking (and writing) about it! 🙂


UT Austin will graduate more students in 4 years

UT Austin

Applause! Applause to The University of Texas at Austin for taking bold moves to graduate more students in four years. Recent reports show that UT Austin graduates over half its students in 4 years and its six-year graduation rate is 77.8%. Graduating in four years saves money for families and enhances the university offerings for its underclassmen.

President Bill Powers has set a goal of graduating 70 percent of our students within four years and appointed the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates to develop strategies to achieve this goal.


The task force believes that by 2016 the university can reach this ambitious goal by enhancing the first-year and freshman orientation experience and by improving advising and student tracking. The task force has made more than 60 specific recommendations to get this accomplished.

via UT Grad Rates.

The UT Austin campus can be intimidating – the freshman dorm houses thousands of students and has the feel of a major urban mall. Imagine if students are attending UT Austin without a prior campus visit. . . . overwhelming! Enhancements in the freshman orientation program may improve the overall freshman year experience, as well as lead to an even stronger freshman-sophomore retention at UT Austin. (Freshman-sophomore retention: 92.4%)

UT Austin

What to do with a degree in architecture – Motorcycle Designer Ed Jacobs

Stanford did not have an architecture program when I attended there many years ago. They did offer industrial engineering and a product design major, which I think is the predecessor to the now-famous D-school at Stanford. There are still students today that may have an interest in architecture or design.

When I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal about an architecture and industrial design graduate, I found the story quite interesting and reflective of how his core skills are translated for today’s needs. This Pratt Institute alum is Ed Jacobs, who designs motorcycles. How cool is this?

Using the computer-assisted design and manufacturing program SolidWorks Professional, Mr. Jacobs is able to develop precise 3-D models of parts and assemblies that can be rendered photo-realistically. When the design reaches its final iteration, Mr. Jacobs emails the file to Birmingham or to one of Confederate’s (the company where he works) suppliers for the part to be produced. The process is well suited to Confederate’s Machine Age aesthetic. Virtually all of the bikes’ structural pieces are milled out of billet aluminum by computer-numerical control CNC machines, which are essentially robotic lathes that precisely reproduce in steel objects designed in virtual reality. It might seem strange that a company that sold only 32 bikes last year would keep a full-time designer on staff. “It’s not just a guy drawing pictures,” Mr. Jacobs said. “The difference is that I’m having to 3-D-model and engineer every single part, from the sketch all the way through the manufacturing, figuring out how things can be tooled in the machines, building jigs, everything.” . . . .when deadlines loom, he will pull all-nighters, as many as four in a row. “Design is a funny thing,” Mr. Jacobs said. “You can keep going and going. Eventually you have to draw a line in the sand, but you keep pushing it to the last minute.”

via Confederate Motorcycles’ Ed Jacobs: The Master of Machine-Age Motorcycles| Creating by Dan Neil –

Many higher education professionals today talk about educating students for jobs that don’t exist yet. I imagine that an architect major of 20 years ago, as Ed Jacobs is, likely never imagined that he would use his major in this way. Kudos to him for finding his path! Now . . . where do I get a ruler and drafting table?

What if the Secret to Getting In is Applying?

Interestingly, as it gets closer to finalizing college lists, students (and parents) are rethinking their college list. They go back an forth around a central concern of “What are the chances of getting in?” That burning question makes this article from Paul Tough in the New York Times, “What if the Sectre to Success is Failure?” all the more timely.

This excerpt captures the essence of what I call “college list fatigue”:

It is a central paradox of contemporary parenting, in fact: we have an acute, almost biological impulse to provide for our children, to give them everything they want and need, to protect them from dangers and discomforts both large and small. And yet we all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can. As a parent, you struggle with these thorny questions every day, and if you make the right call even half the time, you’re lucky. But it’s one thing to acknowledge this dilemma in the privacy of your own home; it’s quite another to have it addressed in public, at a school where you send your kids at great expense. . . .“The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure,” Randolph explained. “And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.” . . . . Randolph wants his students to succeed, of course — it’s just that he believes that in order to do so, they first need to learn how to fail.

via What if the Secret to Success Is Failure? –

With all the angst of trying to pick those colleges where they won’t get rejected, students are missing out on some colleges that could be a great fit. I encourage students to look at a range of colleges in selectivity. Whether the college is a “reach” or not, the college should be a good fit.

In the research on college completion, studies have shown that when students go to a college that is more academically challenging, they are less likely to drop-out. This is counter-intuitive because most people would think that if it’s an “easy school” then students are less likely to drop-out . . . on the contrary.

College-bound students are better off spending their time visiting high-priority campuses, learning as much as they can about the colleges where they’re applying, and writing compelling essays. Doing those things help with getting into a “reach” college. If you don’t apply, your chances of getting in are zero. Even a 10% chance of admissions is better than no chance at all.

There are many students (and me) surprised by their acceptances to “reach” schools every year. For the many students who are denied admission, they learn that this is not the end because they didn’t get into X college. Hopefully, their list has included a range of colleges that are good fits, not just the “easy” ones.

How to be a successful College Student – What the research says

August is a month fraught with both excitement and anxiety over starting college or returning to college if you’re a sophomore or upperclassmen. This morning along, I met with a reporter who is writing an article about separation anxiety and the emotional roller-coaster for both parents and students who are starting college. We talked at length about various stressors and what families can do during this major life transition.

Then, about an hour ago, I got a great text from one of my families. It was a picture of my client Tori moving into her dorm room today! I loved the picture and the text because it highlighted the excitement of starting college. There are so many butterflies in anticipation of meeting your roommate(s), getting your room set-up and stocked, and sleeping in a new bed! It’s all the start of a new and unfamiliar experience for Tori, as well as hundreds of thousands of college freshmen this month.

Here’s the rub. . . College graduation overall in our country today is about 55%. Slightly less than  80% of our freshman return for the sophomore year. When students drop out after freshman year, it costs us nationally over $4.14 billion dollars. Our show in July focused on the Freshman year transition.

Today on The Education Doctor® Radio we extended that conversation with our guest, Professor Eric Bettinger of Stanford University, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. Professor Bettinger has studied and published in the field of higher education for many years. His work includes the role of teacher characteristics and class sizes in college, the role of need-based financial aid, and the complexity of the college application process.  We were honored to have him share his expertise and he gave our families some new insights about what it takes to be successful in college. A key tip for students applying to college and those currently enrolled is planning ahead for deadlines, according to Professor Bettinger.

Here is a recording to the show: (Yes, I do need to get transcripts soon . . . :-))

Click to listen to Interview with Prof Eric Bettinger of Stanford on How to Be a Successful College Student

More interesting posts to check out:

How to get into the University of Chicago

Please sign up for our monthly newsletter . . . Great stuff!

The Backlash and Appeal of Forbes Top 200 College Rankings

Forbes Top 200 College

Another brouhaha has been stirring about the most recent college rankings from Forbes. Frankly, I hadn’t even noticed these rankings until I read about Northeastern University’s (#534) objections. Northeastern is taking issue with the inclusion of points for the graduation rate (their’s is 69.9%). According to the Forbes analysis, the 4-year graduation rate counts for 17.5% of the score. Much of the remaining points related to student satisfaction and alumni success. It seems that even if their graduation rate was 100%, they would still be ranked in the triple digits.

The biggest issue for Northeastern may be recruiting. Although countless “experts” discount the use of these rankings in the admissions process, countless rising seniors and their families rely on these reports to determine where to visit and ultimately, where to apply. Thus, there are many more students who may not even consider Northeastern because it’s so far down on the list. This may translate into increased resources for them to get their message out to prospective students and be competitive with all the other top colleges in Massachusetts that are ranked in the single and double digits:

For the second year in a row, Williams College, a small, western-Massachusetts liberal arts school, has been named as the best undergraduate institution in America. With total annual costs adding up to nearly $55,000, a Williams education is certainly not cheap, but the 2,000 undergraduates here have among the highest four-year graduation rates in the country, win loads of prestigious national awards like Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and are often rewarded with high-paying careers.

In second place? Princeton University, which boasts nearly nonexistent student debt rates due to one of the most generous financial aid programs in the nation. Outside of Princeton and Harvard (#6), Ivy League schools fare relatively poorly, suggesting that their reputations might be a bit overblown. Yale (#14), Brown (#21) and Dartmouth (#30) crack the top 5%, but the other Ivies – Columbia (#42), Cornell (#51) University of Pennsylvania (#52) — do not.

Because of our emphasis on financial prudence, the zero-cost military service academies rank highly. West Point, which topped the list two years ago, ranks third this time, thanks to outstanding teaching (#3) and high alumni salaries (#8), while the Air Force Academy (#10) and the Naval Academy (#17) glide easily into the top 20. Even the less prestigious academies – the Coast Guard (#97) and the Merchant Marine (#158) — score well.

Outside of the academies, the highest ranked public school is the University of Virginia (#46) followed closely by the College of William and Mary (#49) and UCLA (#55).

via America’s Top Colleges – Michael Noer – Backslash – Forbes.

I actually applaud the efforts of these recent rankings because they do take into account affordability and college graduation rates. Studies have shown that the breakdown in graduation occurs in the application process. This ranking helps in leading students toward a more informed selection of colleges.

Additional interesting posts to check out:

How to get into the University of Chicago

Please sign up for our Newsletter so you are ready for College!

Top 3 Concerns when applying to a Party School

Ohio University

When I recently visited Ohio University in Athens Ohio, I had no idea that it would be named this week as the #1 party school by

Princeton Review! The town of Athens was quite charming, filled with restaurants and shops. Even though I visited during the summer, there were many students on campus, current undergraduates as well as high schoolers. The campus and curriculum seemed to have a lot to offer.

Certainly, with this new ranking, it begs the question . . .

Should college-bound students still apply to a college that has a Party School reputation??

That’s a serious question. While I don’t encourage selecting a college solely on rankings, this particular one is a bit unnerving. According to the Princeton Review, the ranking is based on a “combination of survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day, and the popularity of the Greek system.” Oooh!

Before adding a “party school” to your list of arbitrarily removing from your list, here are 3 critical questions that a family should answer:

  • How grounded and self-aware is my teen?
  • Does my teenager typically make their own decisions or follow the crowd?
  • What campus resources will be available for my teen if the academic load is too easy or social influences are negative?

And these questions are part of a whole range of questions that every college applicant must ask as part of their due diligence. There are other questions related to the student’s social well being, academic expectations, and financial support that will determine whether a party school still remains on the list.

In considering these questions, here is a list of the top 20 party schools of 2011 by Princeton Review, along with their rate of admissions and graduation rates. There are only two private colleges among this list and the number of enrolled students ranges from 2,000 at Depauw to 56,000 at Arizona State. These campuses are located in varied settings with 3 in rural communities, 7 suburban, and 10 urban communities!


2012 Party Schools* Graduation Rates Admit Rates
Ohio University 69.7% 77.8%
U Georgia, Athens 77.9% 54.8%
U Mississippi 55.7% 83.4%
University of Iowa n/a 82.3%
U California Santa Barbara 81.5% 54.4%
West Virginia University 55.9% 34.7%
Penn State, University Park n/a n/a
Florida State University 69.5% 46.7%
U Florida 81.6% 41.5%
U Texas Austin 77.8% 43.5%
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign 82.0% 69.0%
Syracuse University 80.1% 52.5%
Louisiana State, Baton Rouge 58.9% 72.8%
U Wisconsin Madison 81.3% 62.8%
DePauw University 85.3% 64.8%
Indiana U Bloomington 72.9% 70.7%
Arizona State 56.0% 82.1%
U Maryland College Park 81.8% 38.8%
U Vermont 71.2% 64.8%
U South Carolina Columbia 66.7% 59.4%


Additional interesting posts to check out:

How to get into the University of Chicago

Please sign up for our Newsletter so you are ready for College!

The importance of College Completion, even after the NBA

During this spring, we have had several shows where we’ve discussed sports in K-12 and at the collegiate level. We’ve talked about golf, hockey, and baseball. Everyone knows that I’m a Yankees fan but my guest to talk about baseball was Dan Mooney who played with the Mets so I stay away from the team rivalry and really delve into what these sports mean for students who aspire to advance in high school and college.

On today’s radio show, we talked about the sport of basketball and it was a great time to have this conversation because we’re in the midst of an exciting finals series!!

My guest today was Corrie Blount, who played in the NBA for eleven years, playing with several great teams, including the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. (My entire family are big Lakers fans.)  Corrie has played at every level of basketball . . . high school, junior college, and college prior to the NBA. What I find so fascinating though about his career in basketball and higher education is that he still saw the importance and value of earning his college degree after retiring from the NBA! That’s excellent and a message that I echoed in our program today.

Please listen to our show as Corrie discusses his experiences at Santa Ana Junior College, Rancho Santiago, and University of Cincinnati! He also intimately shared what made him cry . . .

How Corrie Blount decided to Complete College after the NBA