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Should I Apply Early Decision to College?

September 06, 2017, 04:44 PM

Should I Apply Early Decision to College?

Should I Apply Early to College?
 
It is that time of year when students weigh the pros and cons of applying early admission to college. Although applying early will not make up for weaknesses in the application, such as low GPA or low SAT scores (not to late to bring those up!), it may give you a slight advantage over the regular applicants pool.
 
Who Should Apply Early?
 
If you have fallen in love with a “dream” school, and there is no other place that you rather attend, consider applying early to college. Applying early also makes good sense for students who want to be admitted to a highly selective college, like the Ivy League, in which having any edge in admissions is always good thing. Some recruited athletes may be asked by coaches to apply early as well.
 
Be Careful: Applying early may have implications financially (see below). Students who are not applying for financial aid may find early admission makes more sense than students who are seeking merit scholarships or generous financial aid packages.
 
What Are My Options for Applying Early?
 
Before you make that decision, it is important to understand the different types of “early” admission policies. Applying early can also impact when you take the SAT and ACT tests and the amount of financial assistance in your financial aid package. So it is worth investigating fully before committing to applying “early” to college.
 
  1. Early Decision: Under this option, students submit the college application in November. When you apply Early Decision, the college promises to notify you of their decision (acceptance, rejection, or deferment) by December 15. When you apply Early Decision, you are signing a binding agreement that you will attend the college, and if admitted, you will withdraw all other applications you have sent.
 
What this means is that if you apply Early Decision, you are agreeing to attend the college. You cannot wait and see what other college options will become available down the road. You also have less room to negotiate for merit scholarships and financial aid because you have essentially committed to the college (and typically merit aid is used to entice applicants to come).
 
Remember: Because you are agreeing to attend if admitted, you can only apply to one school Early Decision.
 
Early Decision is a great choice if you can say “Yes” to the following questions:
 
  • Have I carefully researched my college options, including campus visits?
  • At the end of my research, does only one school stand out as my first choice?
  • Do I meet or exceed the academic profile of the college to which I am applying?
  • Can I afford this college?
  • Have I taken all required tests by October 1st?
 
  1. Early Decision II: This option is similar to Early Decision, in that you must attend if admitted. The deadline for ED II, however is later, typically January 1. Students are notified around February 15 (after the deadlines for regular admission). If admitted ED II, students will need to withdraw all applications, similar to ED.
 
Early Decision II is a great choice if you can say “Yes” to the following questions:
 
  • Have I carefully researched my college options, including campus visits?
  • At the end of my research, does only one school stand out as my first choice?
  • Do I meet or exceed the academic profile of the college to which I am applying?
  • Can I afford this college?
 
 
  1. Early Action: Under this option, you submit your college application in November. When you apply Early Action, the college promises to notify students of their decision (acceptance, rejection, deferment) before the regular applicants, typically by December 15.
 
When applying Early Action, students are not obligated to attend and do not need to withdraw applications from other colleges if admitted. You can often apply to more than one college Early Action, as long as the other colleges do not have an Early Decision or Single-Choice Early Action policy. Because you have not agreed to attend, students are more likely to be awarded merit scholarships than those applying Early Decision.
 
  1. Single Choice Early Action (SCEA): Only a few highly selective colleges, such as Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, offer this option. Under SCEA, you agree to file only one Early Action application, but you can apply to as many colleges that you desire as a regular applicant (and you can still apply to one Early Decision college as well).
 
When you apply SCEA, the college promises to notify you of their decision (acceptance, rejection, deferment) before regular applicants. If admitted, you are not obligated to attend and do not need to withdraw other applications.
 
Early Action and Single Choice Early Action are great choices if you can say “Yes” to the following questions:
 
  • Am I unwilling to fully commit to a single college, preferring to keep my options open?
  • Do I want to see what other colleges will admit me before making a final decision?
  • Am I hoping to be offered a merit aid scholarship or would like to negotiate a better financial aid package?
  • Have I taken all required tests by October 1?

 
Not Sure Yet?
 
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