What You Should Know About Applying Early Decision

7 Pros and Cons of Applying Early Decision

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You have spent your whole life dreaming of that one campus. You know which one I'm talking about. Maybe your parents went before you. Maybe the prestige of it has beckoned you for years. Maybe you just happened across a pamphlet five years ago and have had your heart set ever since. Whatever the reason is, you're sure this is the school you want to go to. And you don't want to wait one more day before finding out if they want you to.

If this sounds like you, chances are petty high that you're already considering applying early decision. 

A quick recap, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, and merely curious:

Early decision and early action are options that allow you to submit your college application months before everyone else. With deadlines usually sometime in the fall of your Senior Year, acceptance or denial (or, occasionally, an invitation to apply again during normal application season) come fairly quickly. The difference is simple: early action means you apply to a college early and they say "yay" or "nay", and you're free to do with that information as you please. Early decision is a binding agreement. Barring unforeseen financial difficulties you are required to attend the school you've applied to.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's talk a bit more about applying early decision, and some of the pros and cons that go along with that.

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Cons

Let's start with all of the reasons that applying early decision may not be for you. (I'm not a fan of wasting time, much like Early Decision applicants, now that I think of it!)

  1. As stated above, if you are accepted you are contractually obligated to attend. You can't apply elsewhere, you can’t weight options, and if you happen to be eligible for a better scholarship somewhere else, well... tough luck. 
  2. Applying early decision means that you're up against some of the best and brightest. All of these people are just as keen on getting into this school as you are, and chances are that all of them look pretty dang good on paper. So you need to, too. 
  3. Your senior semester’s grades, projects, AP classes, and whatever else you've decided to do to improve your high school resume will not be weighed here, but colleges can rescind offers of admission if your grades drop too much. So if your freshman, sophomore, and junior grades aren't to the point you think they need to be to guarantee acceptance, you're better off waiting until general admissions. 
  4. Should you not be accepted, you need to have a back-up plan. Which can be heart-wrenching, considering how committed to a school early decision applicants usually are.

Pros

Now, with that out of the way, here are the reason that applying early decision can be a wonderful decision. 

  1. You have the immediate appearance of being incredibly committed to this school. Applying early decision is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your loyalty to the University of your choosing. 
  2. You technically have a higher chance of being accepted. Look... I'm not going to break down the math. But let's just say that a higher percentage of early applicants get accepted than those who apply later. 
  3. You get to spend your senior year without a care in the world. Knowing where you're going takes a massive load off of your shoulders while your classmates are scrambling to submit their next five college applications. 

Applying early decision isn't for everyone. It's high stakes, nerve wracking, and can end up being a massive disappointment— but if you've spent high school preparing for admission into the school of your dreams and feel that this is the right avenue for you, I hope that all of your efforts pay off!

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