Wednesday’s Parent: Choosing an admission program is like buying a mattress

Choosing an admission program is like buying a mattress. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Choosing an admission program is like buying a mattress. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

A college admission program has to fit a student comfortably like a customer finding the right mattress. In the end, both will be making their own bed and lying in it, even if one of them is in a dorm bunk bed. I was thinking of the similarities as I tried out a few in a local store.

There are lots of choices but the comfort and cost vary. A wrong decision can cause sleepless nights, a hefty blow to the pocketbook, and change the course of the next umpteen years. The pressure is on to make good choices.

My need for new sleeping arrangements coincides with the November deadline for college applications under early admission programs. That means the college-bound and their parents are under pressure, too. First they have to find out which admission programs colleges on their list offer. Second they have to decide which one offers the best chance of admission and suitable financial aid package.

The possibilities include Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), Restricted Early Action (REA), other hybrid ED-EA, or not apply early at all and go with Regular Decision (RD). Those that can’t decide now may also submit when they are ready via Rolling Admission (RA).

Q  Who benefits most from each admission program? 

A  ED allows colleges to fill up their classes early with students with the strongest credentials and finances who declare a college as their one choice. EA demonstrates the students’ strong interest in a college while keeping the option to compare other offers of admission and financial aid. RD enables students to submit additional months of senior year accomplishments to supplement their application and compare other offers. Check the school’s rules for REA and other admission programs to determine which early or non-early admission program benefits you.

I don’t know whether a few minutes of lying down will be good enough for me to test whether or not I will get a solid eight hours (Ha!) of rest. Neither do most 17-year-olds know at the beginning of their senior year what their 18-year-old selves want as they near high school graduation. Whether it is a change of my body or the student’s heart or mind, doesn’t matter. We both have to make a decision based on our research now and what we want to achieve in the future. We will deal with the consequences of our decisions and move on.

To help me decide, I reread 7 Shakespearean steps to good decision-making. Students and parents can also reread College Application & Early Decision and College Admission Applications.

Read Suzanne’s post: EA and ED–Just Get It Over With (and other reasons) 


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.


READ more: Early admission applications sent, now 7 things to do