Confusing College Admissions Words Explained [VLOG]

By: Susanna Cerasuolo, M.Ed.
We all know the college admissions process is a beast. The amount of work many students find themselves doing can easily amount to a part-time job. This work alone is overwhelming, but before many students can even begin the process they have to figure out what the heck the colleges are asking them to do. Figuring out the meanings of college admissions words is a challenge in itself, but fear not college applicants, that’s where we come in. In this vlog Susanna will explain the meaning of many mysterious admissions words. For additional information take a peek at our extensive Glossary.
Ok! Welcome to CollegeMapper. Today’s vlog, that is a video blog, in today’s vlog, we are going to be talking about confusing college words! Yes!
Anyway, the first one is Transcript. I get a lot of questions like, “What is my transcript exactly?”  Well, let’s make this quick because it’s dull. Your Transcript is a one-page document that includes all of your high school classes and grades. Your high school will send this to all of the colleges to which you apply. It is an important document; it is so important that you should verify that it has no errors. We find a few errors per year.  It’s a big confusing document and a big confusing system, so you should make sure that yours is correct. If you do find an error be very polite about it because no one did it on purpose. I’m sure it was just an oversight, but you should get that fixed.
SAT, ACT, SAT II’s, what’s the difference? Oh goodness, well, all colleges accept either the SAT or the ACT and you only need to send one. And all the colleges in America accept either one, so you can focus on the one you prefer and you can, you know, try to do better on that one. The SAT and ACT are 4 hours long each. Take some practice tests, and see which format appeals more to your learning style. Most kids do tend to prefer one over the other. The SAT II’s, the SAT subject tests as they’re called now, are 45 minutes to an hour long and you take those in a subject area to sort of “show off” something you’re really, really good at.  You would send these to colleges that require them. For instance, if you plan on applying somewhere for engineering they would often want to see Math 2 and Physics, so you should look at the colleges on your college list and see if they’re requiring any subject tests.
Early Decision, Early Action, Single Choice Early Action, Restrictive Early Action and Rolling:
Early Decision is binding. You apply Early Decision to only one school; it would have to be your clear top choice school. You are pledging to that school. If accepted you will enroll, which is why you can only do ED to one college. If you are accepted to your Early Decision college then you pull all your other applications and go to that college. It’s not the easiest thing if you need to consider financial aid, but Early Decision is very much to your benefit because you’re declaring to your school that you’ll enroll, and they like that.
Single Choice Early Action and Restrictive Early Action means it’s not binding but you can only apply Early Action to in college. They only want you to do one Early Action application.
Early Action is not binding, and you can apply Early Action to multiple places because Early Action is different than Early Decision. Early Decision is binding, Early Action is not binding. Early Action you can apply Early Action to multiple places, except Single Choice Early Action and Restrictive Early Action–you can only do those to one place.
Then there’s Rolling which means they accept applications all year round or up until some closing date that’s often in the spring, sometimes in the summer, perhaps all year round. As soon as you apply to a Rolling school, they’ll let you know in 2 to 3 weeks so that’s really kind of cool because you find out soon!
Let’s see… and then Common App vs. the college’s own application. The Common App is one single application with over 400 member colleges so you can complete one application and check the colleges that you’d like to send that to and it goes off to all of those colleges. Each college may have their own supplement page within the Common App but it is one application and goes off too many schools. Some schools do not subscribe to the Common App; they have their own application on their website so you will have to do that application on their website because you can’t do the Common App for them. So you have to pretty clearly figure out on your college list “which of my schools are on the common app and which of my schools are not on the common app?”  Once you know that, you know how many applications you have to do; you have one Common App to do and then however many non-Common App schools you have.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about the confusing college words I get asked about the most. Take care!

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