If you choose to go the early decision (that’s different than early action) route, it’s important to know that you’re entering into a binding agreement. If you’re accepted, you have to go to that school.
So, if you’re not 100% certain you’ll enroll in a certain school if you’re accepted, steer clear of early decision. If you’re feeling good about it, here are a few ways to tell you should apply early decision:
1. You’re certain the school is the one for you
After considering other schools, you’ve decided that this one is your top choice. You’ve researched the college and looked at the opportunities and majors the school offers. Visiting the campus before applying, if possible, is important to make sure you feel at home at the place you will be spending the next few years of your life.
2. You’ve built an impressive application ahead of the game
Applying early decision means early deadlines. By the time the deadline rolls around (usually in early to mid-November), you should have taken the SAT and/or ACT. You’ve asked for recommendation letters. Your grades and class records reflect your academic strengths. You’ve written your application essay. Your resume includes your extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and experience that best depict you as an ideal applicant. Early decision doesn’t leave much room for procrastination, so you need to be on top of everything!
3. You’re dying to get your decision
When you apply early decision, you’ll usually get your decision back sometime in December. (When you apply regular decision – the most common deadline – you won’t get your decision back until March or April.) If you know you’ll be counting down the days until you get your decision and you can’t wait to enroll when you (fingers crossed!) are accepted, early decision might be for you.
4. You want to compete against a smaller pool of people
Students who apply early decision are those who’ve selected that school as their top choice, and because of this, some colleges tend to admit more students from early decision because they know they’ll attend. This way, you’ll be up against fewer students than you would had you applied regular decision.
5. Your financial need will be met at the school
If this school is at the top of your list, you should consider everything you’re looking for in a college and all the things that are important to you. If you’re worried about college expenses, you need to consider how you’ll pay for it (without taking the financial aid package into consideration, since you won’t get this until after you’re accepted). You may regret your decision to apply early if you find that another school ultimately offers more aid, so you need to be sure!