We investigate how students form preferences over universities, focusing on the question of how the timing of offers influences the matching outcome. Using data from the clearinghouse for university admissions in Germany (Hochschulstart), we can observe how students re-order their preference lists after receiving offers from universities. The FDA (further-deferred acceptance) mechanism employed by the clearinghouse is based on the university-proposing deferred acceptance mechanism, but differs from the standard procedure in that it extends the first stage of the mechanism and makes it dynamic. We find that receiving an early offer from a university increases the likelihood of the student enrolling at this university. We argue that costly information search and processing can explain this finding and propose a model to derive comparative statics predictions. A number of alternative explanations can be excluded.