Early Action

The fall of my senior year was way more relaxed for me than it was for everyone else I knew. My application essay was modified from a junior year writing assignment, so I only had to do slight revisions. And I only applied to two schools: Ithaca College, both my number-one and my safety, and George Washington University, my not-guaranteed but it was a backup in case I decided not to do speech pathology.

So I had it easy from the get-go. But the biggest reason I got to sit back and relax while everyone else wrote supplement essays over Christmas and unnecessarily worried they wouldn’t get in anywhere? Early Action.

The idea is simple–you apply early to your school in November or December and you hear back early (December through February, usually). You aren’t bound to a contract to attend and you still have until May 1 to decide where you want to go. Seriously, I don’t know why more seniors don’t apply EA to schools they think they might like to go to. It’s basically the best deal in the college admissions process.

I applied Early Action to Ithaca, so by mid-December I knew I was officially going to college.

ithaca acceptance

Though in reality I knew I was going to Ithaca since April of my junior year. One visit was all it took to fall in love with the school, but I wasn’t always so keen on it. In fact, my mom practically had to drag me there.

“Look at this school,” she said in January of junior year, “It’s medium-sized, and they have all your programs–speech, education, Spanish, and even a dedicated photography minor. Plus they have a 5-year accelerated Master’s program for speech.”


Then again, maybe I should’ve stuck to my guns.

It seemed too good to be true. It’s extremely hard to find speech-language pathology programs at medium-sized schools, and both of those elements were musts for me. The 5-year program and the photography were the sweetest icing on the already seemingly perfect cake.

“The only thing is that it’s in upstate New York.”

“So I can’t go there. It snows too much.

“Let’s just visit. They have everything you want. You can tolerate the snow for five years!”

“No. I won’t go. It snows.”

I gave in a week later, telling her I wanted to visit during our 10-day-10-colleges trip to the East Coast.

And my campus visit was amazing. I got to sit in on a phonetics class that I didn’t understand at the time but found interesting anyway. Three separate students struck up conversation and encouraged me to choose Ithaca. One shared her workbook so I could follow along and explained a bit about her speech courses. One told me not to be scared of the snow, even though I hadn’t mentioned my concern. One asked me if I was German–her grandmother was named Sabine (pronounced the same). I didn’t even have to initiate (I would’ve been too nervous anyway), they were genuinely enthusiastic about the school.

I then got to meet with a professor in the speech department (who’s now my advisor, actually) and tour the clinic, followed by the regular campus tour.

By 2pm, I was sold on Ithaca. I loved the student body, I loved my department’s faculty, and I even loved the ugly 1970s architecture (halls of Ivy are too intimidating for me anyway). I decided I could tolerate the snow since the people were so warm.

Three years later, I still love the student body. I love my department’s faculty. I don’t hate the ugly 1970s architecture. And I tolerate the snow.

I cringe a bit saying it, but it’s true: sometimes mother does know best.

This post is part of my April A to Z Challenge. For more All Things College posts, click here 

42 thoughts on “Early Action

  1. An interesting story, with a moral and some advice for young people. On our first visit to the US we saw some of upstate NY – okay, mostly Buffalo and the route between it and NJ, as we were visiting Niagara – it really does have some gorgeous country.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The visit totally is the clincher! I visited the East Coast on a university tour, and chose my school that way. The brochures just don’t cut it. It sounds like you chose a great place!


  3. We’re in the midst of visiting and looking at schools for my daughter who is a junior. Pretty sure Ithaca isn’t an option, but the cold weather issue is one of the reasons she has avoided looking at UofM Duluth- because going two hours north is going to be so much colder and snowier than where we are now /sarcasm font.


  4. I remember phonetics classes from when I was a linguistics major (for two months before I dropped out). I found the subject quite interesting but the class was hard and the professor had written the book and he used a lot of pictures in class (I’m blind so that didn’t work out for me). I didn’t apply to college early at all. In fact, I decided at the last moment, a week before graduating from high school, that I wasn’t going to college at all yet. Then again, when I did go to college eventually, I applied early on. We don’t have long admissions processes here, unless you want to study something like medicine, psychology at certain universities and I believe speech/language pathology too.


    • Linguistics is a very interesting subject, but I can see how it would be frustrating in a setting where the teaching style doesn’t match your abilities/strengths. The differences in education from place to place never cease to amaze me.


  5. I hope your mom read your post. I’m so glad you found the right school. An alarming number of students transfer. My daughter goes to school in Boston and has always loved snow. Until this year.


  6. I made all my teachers uber nervous because I only applied to UC Berkeley. No backups. If I wasn’t going to get in, I told them I’d apply the next year, haha. Funnily enough, that’s exactly how they do it in Japan, so clearly I was in the right major!

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant


      • It was, for a while, but I had this weird moment when I was walking to class one day that I was *definitely* getting in. Not an over-confidence, or arrogance (I think!), but just… “Yeah, I got this.” And then I didn’t think about it again until the acceptances rolled out… and of course I jumped around my house like a maniac all day after. :)


  7. Good for you! I took a year off after high school because I really had no idea where I wanted to go, how to apply to college, how colleges even worked, etc. NO idea. Pretty sure my mom assumed I knew and thus never explained it to me. (Story of my life.) To be fair, though, the community college I attended the first two years was her idea and worked out great, AND changing my major to history was her idea… :)


    • My mom was VERY involved in the whole college thing, plus my high school did a fair amount of teaching us how to prepare. It’s a difficult process to navigate without any prior knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I felt the same way when I discovered St. Rose. I knew it was where I belonged, and I only applied there because I knew it was where I was going to go. I don’t know when I’m going to make it down your way next, but I’ll contact you about a meet up!


  9. Glad you braved the snow and went to the best college for you! Just a question because I’m curious (and from Canada so I don’t know) – do you have to pay more to apply to college early? And if no then it is a wonder that more people don’t do this.


    • Nope, no extra fee! Not every college has it, which is likely why it isn’t as popular as it could be, but I see no reason not to apply Early Action if the option is available.


  10. I applied Early Action too! Definitely made my college experience smoother — UGA was the first school I heard from and made the first acceptance so much more exciting (especially since it was the dream I didn’t know I wanted to come true). The way UGA does it, I’m not sure I would have gotten in Regular Decision… which is scary to think about. (Only two people from my school got in regular, as opposed to twelve early action.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My college wasn’t difficult to get into at the time…you applied, you got in. It was a state school (Middle Tennessee State University), but one of the best mass comm. departments in the country at the time. I was thinking as I read this that it wouldn’t matter if it snowed if you lived on campus. You could just put on some snow boots and trudge to class. But the more I thought about that, the more it sounded awful!



    • I do live on campus currently, which is great because I don’t have to deal with a car or anything. But the trudging is tiresome and it snows November to April so it gets OLD quickly.


  12. I love this story, Sabina, as I just came through this process for the third and last time with my daughter :) And, yes, early action is an absolute must to help keep one’s sanity and stress level in check (rolling admission too)!

    We took an 8-day car trip to small northeastern schools last spring all the way from Virginia to Maine, and we hit that snow you talk of! Some of her favorites on paper fell of her list as a result of the visit. She ended up falling in love with Colgate, an idyllic, very small university in a town of 3000 people in upstate New York in the middle of nowhere. I worried about her spending four years in such a small community.

    Then we took a trip to the opposite coast last summer to see schools of all sizes out there. In the end, she applied to all very large schools across the country, a total reversal from where she initially saw herself :)

    So the take away from me to add to your wonderful advice is “college visits”! They make all the difference in the world.

    Fast forward to today. Where is she headed? While she got into an early action school (a safety for her but one that gave her the peace of mind that you speak of), she’s now a proud Trojan, headed to sunny and large University of Southern California, her first choice! A long way both figuratively and literally from from that small, snow-covered New England school! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we did preliminary college visits (I was a freshman in HS, my sister was a sophomore), we were both looking at tiny schools. Like 3000 undergrads max. We both ended up expanding that later–both of our schools have about 6000 undergrads–and I’ve also visited bigger schools (but hated them). Visits are HUGE for making a decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m trying to remember if I did Early Action or Early Decision… If I recall, Early Decision is you have to actually commit in a shorter timeline once accepted, which often closes before they start in on “normal” admissions. Hmmm… either way, I went with Early Something, and I agree, it was totally a load off!


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