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Early College Admissions

This article first appeared in the Hindu on 19th September, 2020

With Ashoka University announcing early admission dates earlier this month, the 2021 application season is on. If this year has been a rollercoaster ride for class XII students, the most thrilling part begins now. Here is is a quick primer on the road ahead:

Early Admissions

This is a relatively new phenomenon in India, and few liberal arts colleges offer early admission rounds: Ashoka, O.P. Jindal, Krea, Azim Premji and Flame. What this means is that one round of applications for the batch starting 2021 gets processed this year. There will be a few more rounds two months after the first deadline. Fortunately, Early Admissions in India, unlike the Early Decision in the U.S., are non-binding. That means, that you can apply to other colleges even after accepting an early admission offer.

Should I Apply Early?

Early Admissions are best for those who have a dream college and a fairly competitive profile. 

Some universities like Ashoka don’t allow you to apply again if the application has been rejected or deferred in the first round. Others such as Flame and O.P. Jindal allow multiple applications.

Another factor to consider is that early applications also means early acceptances. This means that you will need to pay a deposit to accept the offer. If you decide against this college later, a portion of this deposit will have to be forfeited.

What Do I Need To Apply Early?

All universities have an entrance test, about three application essays, and an interaction round to select the most suitable students. Most tests are based on class X Math and English. What they really check is your ability to think logically. Some preparation is essential. Alternatively, the SAT is accepted by all these colleges, instead of their own specific test. 

Predicted scores are needed from your school, of course, and hopefully, your best performance in these. Applying early will mean that your predicted scores will be projected based on your class XI scores and half-yearly scores (however, the school has conducted it in these difficult times). Apart from this, you will need to prepare for on-the-spot essays and an interview in Ashoka, case studies and group discussions in Krea, and an interview with each admissions team.

So, here’s the thing. It is a great idea to apply early if you feel that you are ready for the entrance tests or have a SAT score and that your predicted grades plus profile will be competitive enough to stand out. And, of course, if you are willing to invest some application funds to block early admission seats. A well-played early admission round results in a relaxed attitude towards your board exams with the happy knowledge of having a place at a great Indian university.

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