The thing about colleges that few people seem to grasp is that they are businesses. They may be non-profit but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have employees, utilities, benefits and hundreds of other bills to pay. That means that they must bring in enough money to cover all those expenses as well as maintain the property and plan for future construction and modifications. Of course, colleges give a great deal of attention to their mission and vision statements that will contain things that deals with the education of students; but when it comes down to dollars, colleges are all business.
The educational aspirations of most colleges are to invite bright students from diverse backgrounds to campus and provide them with a leaning environment that ensures success. The business portion of the school wants to have as many students on campus that can pay full price and require the minimum amount of available resources. So, what does this have to do with when an application is submitted?
The tension created by the idea of educating any and everyone and efficiently managing finances is ever-present. When the playing field is practically empty – early in the application season. Admissions and administration can participate in liberal compromise about who is an acceptable candidate for admission. But as the freshman class begins to fill specific types of students who have not yet been admitted become an increasing priority. Students who might be an easy yes for admissions committees in the first 500 students may not be so attractive when there are only 500 seats left to fill.
Applying early has other benefits that may not be obvious to the student. An early application demonstrates ambition and responsibility. Students who are prompt are definitely preferred to those who procrastinate. There are incentives at many colleges like consideration for scholarships for students who apply by an earlier deadline. Applicants can also have time to correct mistakes or replace missing pieces of their application file if something goes missing. Anyone submitting their application on the day of the deadline has no chance to correct a mistake in their application file.