Time was, applying to college was a rather simple, unencumbered process. Fill out a few applications (by hand), write a short essay, send it all in at your leisure (by snail mail) with your check for $5. And voila! No stress. No sleepless nights. No worries over deadlines and selectivity.

Well, those days, my friends, even for the crowd longing for a nostalgic return, are gone if not forgotten.

Enter the era of incredible pressure, unheard of competitiveness, essays wothy of a Pulitzer, and more deadlines and sources of information (both good and bad) than College Board has fees.

The college application season begins sooner. College admissions decisions arrive later (if only becase there are so many more applications to review). And applying earlier in the game has become the norm rather than the rare exception.

Indeed, Early Action is now officially the new Regular Decision.

Get your foot in the door. Be that early bird who catches the worm. Show them your interest, your moxey, your most wothy credentials before anyone else's application comes before the admissions committee.

Just a few years ago, only the select few applied Early Action, this as so many of their high school compatriots still snoozed. Today, or so admissions officers across the board tell us, not only are more students applying Early Action where it is offered as an option, but upwards of 30% of the incoming class will have been offered admission before the first Regular Decision application saunters in.

Colleges are even moving up the deadline date for Early Action, which typically falls somewhere between November 1 and December 1. [UNC-Chapel Hill set an Early Action deadline of October 15, a time when most high school seniors are shaking off the last vestiges of summer and first getting started on their college applications.]

Missed the Early Action deadline? No worries. So what if 30% of the freshman class has already gotten an offer of admission. That leaves 70% of the seats open and waiting for you.

And while that early bird may very well get the worm, remember, it is usually the second mouse that gets the cheese!

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . .

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