Choosing a college is a big step for young athletes. Deciding to enter the college ranks early is a big decision, whether you’re an athlete or not. At the same time, no matter what sport you play or the curriculum you’re interested in, there are going to be certain choices you’ll need to ponder.
College early decision applications are typically due the first of November and you’ll know if you’re accepted long before others that don’t file for an early decision. Keep reading if you want to learn some ins and outs on if it’s right for you or a big mistake.
You first need to consider that you’re signing a binding agreement to enroll in the school if you’re accepted when you file for an early college decision.
If you apply for an early decision, you need to be absolutely sure you want to attend that school. You can only apply to one school for early decision because of the binding contract.
How to Apply for College Early Decision?
Applying for an early decision is pretty much the same as filling out a regular application. However, you have the binding agreement that needs to be signed by you, a parent or guardian, and your guidance counselor.
You need to provide your test scores along with letters of recommendation and you need to send an official score report either through your ACT account or your college board. You’ll also need to have your official high school transcript sent as well.
What’s the Difference Between Early Decision and Early Action?
You may have heard of early action and early decision and wonder what the difference is between them.
Early action is a better option for those who aren’t certain what school to attend. Early action doesn’t hold you to a binding agreement when you apply. You are still free to apply elsewhere after you’ve been accepted with early action.
What Happens When You Get Accepted?
Once you’re accepted with your college early decision, you need to make a deposit. Plus, you need to withdraw all other applications you might have submitted in the interim. After that, you’re all set and ready to embark on your college education.
What if I Need Financial Aid?
You may need financial aid, where the early decision gets tricky. You won’t be able to apply for financial aid until after you’ve been accepted.
However, you’ll run the risk of not getting financial aid or getting less than what you’ll eventually need to make things work, while already being locked into that school.
Should I Enter College Early if I’m an Athlete?
This is a bit different from the early decision. However, it should be talked about since many of you are athletes or parents of athletes.
Some athletes are ahead in their schooling and want to get to college and be with their new teammates earlier than usual. For instance, some football players may want to start practicing with their new team during the spring instead of waiting until fall.
There isn’t much downside to this since you won’t be playing in any games and you’ll get some extra time to adjust to the speed and strength of your new teammates.
However, some athletes can graduate a year early and play in college when they’re a year or two younger than almost every other freshman.
There’s a story about a hockey player from Michigan who went on the play at the University of Michigan as a highly touted freshman.
He skipped a year ahead and entered college as a 17-year-old freshman. That player struggled from the get-go.
Unfortunately, he never really recovered from the first year, where he lost all of his confidence. He never played in the NHL.
Is College Early Decision Right For Me?
College early decisions can work out well for you. However, it’s probably not the right avenue if you don’t meet specific criteria. Early action might be a better way to go. Think of it as a middle-of-the-road decision.
You can find out if you’re accepted early but you don’t have to sign the binding agreement and it leaves other options open for you.
Either way, you can make the best decision for yourself or your future college student with the above information.