Early Action: What Does It Mean?
This year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will have an early action decision date for the first time. It is actually pretty great, because it means you could get a decision on December 16! But what does early action mean at Illinois and does it really even matter? Let’s look into it a little.
What is early action at Illinois?
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, early action applicants will receive a decision on December 16, as well as priority consideration for our honors programs, merit-based scholarships, and competitive majors. Even better, early action at Illinois is non-binding. This means you will can still apply to other schools and you will have until May 1 to make your final decision.
When December 16 comes around, you could receive one of three decisions: admit, deny or defer. You can learn a little more about these decisions here.
Our current goal is to defer as few students as possible during the early action review process. If you happen to be deferred, you will receive your final decision on February 3. To ensure a consistent and fair review process for all students, we will not consider any additional information (think first semester senior year grades or new activities/awards from first semester). We will use the information from your initial application.
What do I need to do?
Basically, you just need to make sure we have everything we need to make your application complete in our office by November 1 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time (23:59 military time). This includes your application, application fee or fee waiver, and your test scores (for international students, this means ACT/SAT and TOEFL/IELTS, if you will be submitting them).
So you can wait until the first of November to do this, right? WRONG!!!
1. Early is always better. You never know when your computer is going to crash or Godzilla is going to smash your house. EARLY IS BETTER.
2. You self-report your grades in our application. That means you need to get a copy of your high school transcript (9th through 11th grades plus your 12th year course list) to use when you apply. You will probably need your counselor to help you get that. Counselors are not usually happy to get late night phone calls on application deadlines for grades. You may think, “Oh, but I can remember all of my grades.” Really, you would be surprised how often people who think they can remember their grades end up guessing wrong and cheating themselves out of the A they actually earned. Trust me, having the transcript will save time and help you get all of the credit you deserve for your hard work.
3. Test scores take time to get here. In fact, you really need to request scores before October 5 for them to arrive on time to meet the early action deadline. For many of our students who send test scores months or even years in advance, this won’t be an issue, but this does mean any test dates after October 5 or scores sent after October 5 will not make it in on time for consideration. It is good to know that you can send us updated test scores as long as they are in our office and matched to your file prior to the decision release date. That means you can always send us a test score from 11th grade and update it with your killer October scores when they are released.
4. You need to have a solid idea of what your first-choice major will be. All Illinois applicants get to choose a first and second-choice program. While you will be able to change your second-choice major after the November 1 deadline and still keep your early action status, if you change your first choice major after November 1, you will lose your early action status. This means you would get your decision on February 3.
5. Questions—You are going to have them! We are usually pretty good about getting back to students within two-three business days, but even we won’t be able to answer your questions in five minutes. You need to make sure you give yourself time to ask anything that may give you pause as you go through the application.
Should I apply early action?
Yes, in my opinion everyone should apply early action. EVERYONE. Do you know how great it is going to be to go into your fall finals knowing that your Illinois decision is just around the corner? Super great, that is how great. Plus, remember, applying early action gives you priority consideration for merit aid, honors programs and competitive majors. The real question is: Why wouldn’t you?
*Final note: Performing and Visual Arts applicants could see a delay in their decisions based on audition dates, portfolio review and competitiveness of the program (up to March 1). This is so the college has time to review all required additional application materials. These students will still benefit from priority consideration for honors programs, merit scholarships, and competitive programs.