Are you wondering if applying early decision is right for you? When used in the correct circumstances, this beneficial college application tool can help you gain enroll at your dream school. When applying early decision (ED), students earning an acceptance letter must commit to the university and disregard other college acceptance letters. This tradeoff tool is used to create a win-win for both students and universities. Students gain the advantage of higher acceptance rates, and universities gain the commitment of highly qualified incoming Freshmen. To that end, TestPrepScore outlines the key considerations for applying through Early Decision below.
The largest advantage students receive when applying through Early Decision is an increased chance of acceptance. For students setting their sights on an Ivy League university, applying Early Decision could be the difference between an acceptance letter or rejection letter. In the fall of 2020, Dartmouth accepted 28% of Early Decision applicants, which is an enormous leap from their average acceptance rate of 4.25%. If your target school is marginally out of reach, an early decision is a beneficial opportunity to gain acceptance.
However, an Early Decision application comes with limitations and is not advantageous for all students. Due to the potentially binding commitment, students may only submit an Early Decision application to one school. While students may resume applying to other colleges as regular applicants, their Early Decision application will determine whether they attend that specific university or, with a rejection, are free to attend other colleges. Students cannot change their minds if they are accepted early-decision.
Early decision is a great tool in an admissions strategy, but only if the student is 100% certain that this university is the best fit for them. To check all of your boxes, thoroughly research the university, make a pros and cons list, visit the campus at least once, attend information sessions, and meet with a financial aid office representative. If you have taken each of these steps and know this college is the one for you, applying early decision will give you a competitive edge in the applicant pool.
Sometimes applying through Early Decision isn’t the best choice. For instance, you may want to pass if you do not wish to lock your spot at a specific college or you’re unsure about the financial aid you will receive. Applying early action shows your eagerness to attend the university, but is not binding. So students may want to keep all options open, especially when the financial aid and scholarship package are not sufficient for their needs. Students who are not confident about attending the university should pass on the Early Decision application.
Applying to college through Early Decision is a wonderful opportunity for eager students. On the other hand, some college-bound students may want to consider waiting until General Admission opens. If you’re unsure if an Early Decision is the best approach, you may want to reach out to your high school guidance counselor so you can explore your other options.
College counselors have the expertise to guide your decision-making process as you navigate through the college admissions journey. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for more tips to improve your college admission application.