SCHENECTADY -- Union College this fall will offer prospective students a new application option that gives high school students a chance to apply by Nov. 1 and hear back from the college by Dec. 20.
Unlike the college's early decision application, which has been in place for many years, students who apply and are accepted under the new “early action” route don't have to commit to Union or let the school know of a final decision until May.
The college's adoption of the early action application option, which is available to applicants at many other schools around the country, is a bid to bolster the college's applicant pool and compete with other colleges and universities that offer the early application option.
“The timeline has moved early,” said Matt Malatesta, Union's vice president for admissions, financial aid and enrollment. “There are a lot of students applying earlier in the process.”
Malatesta said Union is looking to further diversify its applicant pool – both by race and ethnicity and geography – and that offering the early action option can help put Union in the running of college options for applicants who focus on schools with the early application deadlines.
He pointed out that many Ivy League schools and elite public flagship universities offer early action applications and that some students may have narrowed their choices after applying to schools with the earlier deadlines. By offering early action, Malatesta said, the college hopes a new group of students will consider applying to Union as well.
“If they have some choices at that point, they will be good to go,” Malatesta said of students who narrow down their college choices early in the process. “If we are in the mix at that point, that gives us more time to recruit those students.”
The earlier application deadline would give prospective students more time to consider Union as an option, taking all winter and spring to schedule a visit or weigh the benefits of the school.
The new application option will add a new layer of complexity for the school's admissions officials as they seek balance acceptances with historical patterns of how many students ultimately attend Union. Depending on how many students apply under the new deadline, the admissions may also have to staff up earlier than usual to review applications in time to notify students about their acceptance status by Dec. 20.
Malatesta said he would expect students who apply under the early action deadline to have as likely a chance of acceptance as students who apply under the college's traditional application deadline of Jan. 15. Students who apply through one of the school's two binding early decision deadlines – Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 – are granted a somewhat better chance of acceptance, because those students commit to attending Union if accepted, a commitment that college values in potential students.