The Great Debate – To Apply Early Decision, or not to Apply Early Decision (part 2 of 3)

As I mentioned last week, the key benefit of applying Early Decision is that you often have a higher chance of being accepted.

Last week I introduced you to the different ways in which a student can apply to a college: regular decision, early action and early decision. I also briefly mentioned rolling admission. Rolling admission is a policy used by many colleges, often public (state) schools. Under this policy applicants can apply within a large window. Generally applications are accepted right up until the semester begins. Often with rolling admissions candidates are notified of their admissions decision within two-four weeks of applying, rather than having to wait until after a posted deadline for all of the applications to be reviewed at once.

While we’re at it, let me throw another curve ball at you (if you don’t mind): ever heard of single choice early action? A few particularly competitive institutions, like Harvard, Yale and Stanford, offer single choice early action or restrictive early action. Princeton’s single-choice early action plan is as follows: This process in nonbinding. If admitted, you have until May 1st to make a decision. You may not apply to an early program at any other private college or university. You may apply early to any public institution or service academy, as long as the decision is nonbinding.

This week I’d like to take some time to focus in on Early Decision.

The Pros

Higher Admit Rate

As I mentioned last week, the key benefit of applying Early Decision is that you often have a higher chance of being accepted. Take a look at the table below featuring admissions stats from last year:

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 3.54.04 PM

Less Waiting Time

Another benefit of applying early decision, and one that is shared with early action, is that you receive your admissions decision much sooner that you would if you applied regular decision. There’s just something nice about having to wait (and worry and stress). Imagine knowing where you’re going to attend college in December or January while half of your classmates are biting their nails down to the bits as they anxiously await their fate.

Apply Early Elsewhere

In most cases, while you can only apply early decision to one school, you can still apply early action, or under any NONBINDING plan to other colleges. This is beneficial if you end up being denied at your early decision school because you’re still left with options. And if you’re accepted, it’s a moot point because you’ve got to withdrawal those early action apps.

The Cons

You knew this was coming, right? It can’t all be good. And trust me, it’s not.

Reduced financial aid opportunities

Being accepted to your early decision school means eliminating the opportunity to receive financial aid offers, possibly greater financial aid offers than what you received from your early decision school, from other colleges and universities. You must simply accept what you’ve been offered by your early decision school. This could mean missing out on some pretty great scholarships (if you’ve applied to the right schools).

Added Pressure and the Possibility of Cold Feet

Applying early decision essentially means you must choose which college you’d like to attend by November of your senior year. Everyone else gets until May 1st of the senior year. They’ll have time to do follow-up visits, to weigh their options, to get a better sense of what they’re looking for and what they want to study and to talk things out with friends and family. Making this decision too soon could result in a case of cold feet once that admissions decision arrives.

To sum things up for you, here’s what it comes down to: You should apply early decision if you are 110% sure you would like to attend the college you are applying early decision to and if finances will not play a role in your final decision.

If you have researched all of your options extensively, if you are absolutely, positively sure that the college is your first choice, if you meet or exceed the admissions profile (GPA, test scores, class rank) at that college and if you’re not too concerned about paying for college, early decision might be the right choice for you.

But, if you’d like to receive multiple financial aid offers, if you want to see who can offer you great opportunities like participating in an Honors College, and if you believe that you could do well at multiple colleges, you’re probably better off avoiding an eplan.

And of course, a Student Services Consultant can always help you through a tough decision like this one.

Until Next Time,

– Rachel Wassink, PES Student Services Consultant

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