The Pros and Cons of Early Decision/Action

The Pros and Cons of Early Decision/Action

The College Application process is a series of choices: when and how will you write that dream essay, when will take your necessary tests, when will you submit your applications, what colleges will you pick?  One of the choices you have to make is whether or not to apply Early Decision/Action.

The Early Decision/Action process allows a student to apply to one school before the Regular Decision deadline of December 31st.  Early Decision is a binding process, meaning, if one is accepted, one must attend the college or university.  Early Action is a process in which one applies early, but is not bound to the school if one is accepted.  The most common Early Decision/Action deadline is November 1st.  The question arises: who would ever apply so early?

The benefits of applying early:

  • Early Decision acceptance rates tend to be higher than Regular Decision acceptance rates.
  • If one is accepted into a school early, then stress over the college application process is over much sooner than usual.
  • One has the potential of being deferred, giving one a second chance in the Regular Decision applicant pool.

The caveats of applying early:

  • If one decides to do Early Decision and is accepted, one may not change his or her mind.  One must attend the college or university one is accepted into.  Therefore, if one decides to apply Early Decision, one has to be 100% sure that the university that has been applied to is one that he or she is set on going.  If one applies Early Action to schools that have such a process, then he or she will not be bound to attend that college or university.  This student can then apply to schools via Regular Decision.  Getting rejected via Early Action, however, does not allow one to apply again.
  • If accepted via Early Decision, one must accept the financial aid package one receives (however if the school is unable to meet the need of student, then the student may break the Early Decision contract).
  • One may never know what other colleges or universities one may have gotten accepted into.
  • The Early Decision/Action applicant pools tends to be more competitive than Regular Decision applicant pools.  This is because many strong applicants who have already done well on their standardized test scores and school grades tend to apply Early.
  • If one is rejected, one cannot apply via Regular Decision.

Some students might ask, “Why the higher admission rates for early decision programs?” It’s in colleges’ best interest to accept students early decision because of the improvement in yield. Yield is defined as the percentage of student admitted to a particular institution who then go on to attend. Early decision students are guaranteed to improve the yield. If an early decision applicant is admitted she must attend. Yield is a key factor in determining rank in US News and World Report.

Students who are set on a certain schools and know that they are great fits for those schools tend to do very well in the Early Decision round.  One should only apply Early Decision if one is sure of wanting to attend the certain university or college that he or she applies to.  If one does get in, then stress drastically decreases and the rest of senior year becomes a breeze*.

*Even if one does get in Early Decision/Action, one should not let his or her grades slip.  Major decrease in grades may lead to one’s rescinding.    

 Best of luck and remember to calculate every choice you make.