Early admission may have several definitions. It can refer to applying earlier in the senior year of high school in order to gain early acceptance to a college. This may or may not require the student to attend a college should he or she get accepted. It can also be a method by which any college could admit a student who has not finished high school, usually in what would be the high school senior year.
When students are interested in early admission, it may be due to the fact that they want to apply to some of the more competitive schools without having to compete with all of the students that will apply during the regular admission process. This doesn’t mean these students are unskilled; in fact they’re often some of the top students in the country. Colleges that offer early admission can pick the very best of these students, which then gives them some sense of what students they’ll accept during standard admission dates.
There are two potential ways that early admission might be achieved. Students could apply, usually before November, and get what is called an early action. This is an offer to attend the school, which the student can then weigh against other offers. Alternately, some schools offer an early decision, which obligates the student to attend if he or she gets accepted (provided no unpredictable or life-changing events occur). Even with early decision, students may have a few weeks to determine whether they want to attend a particular school. Applying doesn’t necessarily mean the student must attend the school, unless it was understood that an early admission application was an acceptance to attend at the same time.
Understanding these distinctions is important so that students know what their application will mean. Many universities offer early admission with choices of early action and early decision. Others don’t offer any type of early admission.
The other way in which this term may be interpreted is when a student applies to college while still completing junior year in high school. This option is more open than many might think. For instance any high school student who takes an exit exam or high school proficiency exam, and who is over the age of 16, may be able to drop out of high school and attend a community college or state college instead. Often classes will count double, so that the first year of college will fulfill any missing requirements to graduate high school. Students should check with high school guidance counselors to verify this.
Some very well known colleges also solicit students at the junior level who are so far in advanced in comprehension of subjects that there is really nothing challenging enough from them at the high school level. Universities may have admission programs for these talented students, or if no program exists, they may be open to discussing an individual’s request to begin college sooner. There are certainly students that fall outside of the norm, such as very young kids who complete college before they reach their teens. If a high school student can demonstrate high-level skills, the college may consider his or her early admission, even when they don’t have a program for this.