Colleges Offer Applicants New Ways to Get an Early Answer

Early-1

Sarah Bones for The Chronicle

Employees process applications at Drexel U. Colleges that give students early answers say the longer lead time benefits both parties, but some counselors say it can cause students to make hasty decisions.

The admissions calendar includes a long, cold season of suspense. Each year many students apply to colleges during the winter, then wait until spring to receive their acceptances or rejections. This familiar cycle seems logical, even natural. But is it necessary?

For years, admissions officials have questioned the traditional timeline—apply by January 1, get a decision by April 1. "Does it really take that long for most institutions to make decisions in the majority of cases?