What are Priority Applications and Should You Use One?

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Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education

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10 min read

What are Priority Applications and Should You Use One?

Introduction

If you're a high school student thinking of applying to college, you're likely aware that there are several different types of college applications available. One option that you may be considering is a priority application. But is it the right choice for you? In this article, we'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of priority applications, as well as provide tips for a successful application process.

Understanding Priority Applications

Before diving into the specifics of priority applications, it's important to have a clear understanding of what they are. Essentially, a priority application is a type of college application that allows students to submit their materials earlier than the regular application deadline. Colleges offering priority applications typically evaluate these applications on a rolling basis, which means that students may receive an admissions decision sooner than they would with a regular application.

What is a Priority Application?

As previously mentioned, a priority application is a type of college application that allows students to submit their materials earlier than the regular application deadline. Some colleges have only one priority application deadline, while others may have multiple deadlines throughout the year. The goal of these applications is to give students who are particularly interested in a specific college an edge in the admissions process.

Priority applications can be a great option for students who have a strong interest in a particular college and want to increase their chances of being accepted. However, it's important to note that not all colleges offer priority applications, and even those that do may have different requirements and deadlines.

Benefits of Priority Applications

One of the main benefits of priority applications is that students may receive an admissions decision sooner than they would with a regular application. This can be especially helpful for students who are trying to finalize their college plans early in the application process. Additionally, some colleges may offer more generous financial aid packages to students who apply through a priority application.

Another benefit of priority applications is that they can demonstrate a student's strong interest in a college. By applying through a priority application, students are indicating that they have done their research and are serious about attending that particular college. This can be particularly important for colleges that prioritize demonstrated interest in their admissions process.

Potential Drawbacks of Priority Applications

While there are certainly benefits to applying through a priority application, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. For one, priority applications often have earlier deadlines, meaning that students need to be ready to submit their materials earlier in the application cycle. This can be challenging for students who are still finalizing their college lists or who need more time to prepare their application materials.

Additionally, some colleges may fill a significant portion of their freshman class through priority applications, which means there may be fewer spots available for students applying through regular decision. This can be particularly true for highly selective colleges, where the majority of admitted students may have applied through a priority application.

It's also important to note that applying through a priority application does not guarantee admission to a college. While it may increase a student's chances of being accepted, the admissions process is still highly competitive and selective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, priority applications can be a valuable tool for students who are interested in a specific college and want to increase their chances of being accepted. However, it's important to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of applying through a priority application before making a decision. By doing so, students can make an informed choice about which application option is right for them.

Factors to Consider Before Applying

Before deciding whether to apply through a priority application, it's important to consider several factors. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Your College Preferences

Do the colleges you're interested in offer priority applications? If so, how do these applications fit into your preferred college timeline?

It's important to research the colleges you're interested in and determine if they offer priority applications. Some colleges may only offer priority applications for certain majors or programs, so it's important to review the details of each school's application process. Additionally, consider how the priority application deadline fits into your overall college timeline. Will you have enough time to submit a high-quality application while still meeting other deadlines?

Your Academic and Extracurricular Profile

Do you have strong grades and test scores that make you a competitive candidate for priority applications? Have you participated in extracurricular activities that may strengthen your application?

When considering a priority application, it's important to assess your academic and extracurricular profile. Priority applications are often reserved for high-achieving students, so it's important to determine if you meet the necessary requirements. Review the average test scores and GPA of admitted students at the colleges you're interested in to determine if you're a competitive candidate. Additionally, consider if you've participated in extracurricular activities that may strengthen your application. Leadership roles, community service, and unique talents or skills can all make you a more attractive candidate for a priority application.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Are the colleges you're applying to known for offering generous aid packages? Do they offer scholarships or grants for specific groups of students?

When applying to college, finances are often a major consideration. If you're considering a priority application, it's important to research the financial aid and scholarship opportunities available at the colleges you're interested in. Some colleges may offer generous aid packages or scholarships for specific groups of students, such as first-generation college students or those pursuing a certain major. Review the financial aid and scholarship options available to determine if a priority application is worth pursuing.

Application Deadlines and Requirements

Do you have the time and resources to submit a high-quality application by the priority application deadlines? Are you comfortable with the additional requirements that may be necessary for priority applications?

Finally, it's important to consider the application deadlines and requirements for priority applications. These applications may have earlier deadlines than regular applications, so it's important to ensure that you have enough time to submit a high-quality application. Additionally, priority applications may require additional materials, such as essays or letters of recommendation. Consider if you have the resources and time to complete these requirements before deciding to pursue a priority application.

Comparing Priority Applications to Other Application Types

While priority applications are not the only type of application available, they are one of several to consider. Here's a breakdown of the different types of college applications:

Early Decision

Similar to priority applications, early decision applications allow students to apply earlier than regular decision deadlines. However, early decision applications are binding, which means that students who are accepted must attend the college and withdraw their applications from any other schools they have applied to.

It is important for students to carefully consider whether or not they want to apply early decision. While it can increase their chances of being accepted, it also means that they must commit to attending the college without knowing what other options may become available to them.

Early Action

Early action applications are non-binding, which means that students do not have to commit to attending the college if accepted. However, early action applications do have earlier deadlines than regular decision.

One benefit of early action is that students can receive their admissions decisions earlier, which can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty of the college application process. However, students should also be aware that they may not receive as much financial aid or scholarship offers with an early action application.

Regular Decision

Regular decision applications are typically due in January or February of a student's senior year. They are not binding and are evaluated just like any other application.

One advantage of regular decision is that students have more time to carefully consider their options and make sure they are making the best decision for their future. However, it also means that they may have to wait longer to receive their admissions decisions, which can be stressful.

Rolling Admissions

Rolling admissions applications are evaluated as they are received, rather than waiting until a specific deadline. This means that students who apply earlier may receive admissions decisions sooner than those who apply later in the admissions cycle.

Rolling admissions can be a good option for students who want to know their admissions status as soon as possible. However, it also means that there may be fewer spots available as the admissions cycle progresses, so it is important to apply as early as possible.

Overall, each type of college application has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important for students to carefully consider their options and choose the application type that best fits their needs and goals.

Tips for a Successful Priority Application

If you've decided that a priority application is the right choice for you, here are some tips for a successful application process:

Crafting a Strong Application

When crafting your application, it's important to make sure that your materials are polished and highlight your strengths in academics, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities. This means taking the time to carefully proofread your essays and ensuring that your resume is up-to-date and accurately reflects your accomplishments.

Additionally, consider seeking feedback from teachers, counselors, or mentors who can provide constructive criticism and help you strengthen your application materials.

Demonstrating Interest in the College

Colleges want to admit students who are genuinely interested in attending their institution. One way to demonstrate your interest is by submitting additional materials, such as a letter of demonstrated interest. This letter should explain why you are interested in attending the college and how you believe you would contribute to the campus community.

Another way to demonstrate your interest is by scheduling a campus visit. This will give you the opportunity to explore the campus, meet with current students and faculty members, and get a sense of what life at the college is really like.

Seeking Letters of Recommendation

Strong letters of recommendation can provide additional insight into your academic and personal qualities. When selecting individuals to write your letters, be sure to choose teachers or mentors who know you well and can speak to your strengths.

Consider asking individuals who have worked with you in a leadership capacity, such as a coach or club advisor. These individuals can speak to your ability to work collaboratively and take initiative, which are qualities that colleges value in their students.

Preparing for Interviews and Campus Visits

If your college offers interviews or campus visits, take advantage of these opportunities. This will give you the chance to ask questions and show your enthusiasm for the college.

Before your interview, research the college and prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer. This will demonstrate your interest in the college and help you make a positive impression.

During your campus visit, attend information sessions and take a tour of the campus. This will give you a sense of what life at the college is really like and help you determine if it's the right fit for you.

Ultimately, whether a priority application is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences. Consider all of your options and the factors outlined in this article before making a decision on which application type to pursue.

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