As application season is now in full-swing, one of the most pressing questions graduating high school seniors have concerning this often stressful time is whether or not they should apply for early decision.
Before outlining the advantages and disadvantages of early decision, it is important to have a good understanding of what early decision actually is. For the most part, it is exactly what it sounds like; applying early decision means that you will hear back about your acceptance sooner. However, it also means that should you be accepted, you are committing to that school, so there are a number of things to consider when deciding if early decision is the right choice for you.
While there are plenty of upsides to applying for early decision, it should not be done lightly. As mentioned above, early decision locks you into a school, meaning that you will be unable to compare financial aid packages. Therefore, if you know your finances are going to play a large role in your school selection, it may be wise to apply regular decision to several schools to ensure you are getting the most help you can. Early decision also means that you will not have the extra time to improve test scores and grades in order to create a better application. Waiting to apply allows you to take the first semester of your senior to complete tasks such as retake the SATs and ACTs and apply yourself in classes in order to boost your GPA. So, if you aren’t confident in the grades and scores you’ve already earned, taking that extra time can help you craft the resumé that you need in order to achieve acceptance at your top schools. However, if you feel confident in your acceptance, and you have your finances handled, there are many benefits to applying early decision.
The obvious advantage of applying early decision is that a student will know if they have been accepted much earlier than their peers who apply normally. This means that, should you be accepted, much of the stress and hassle of searching and applying for colleges will be behind you. So, if there is a school that your heart is set on, early decision can be an effective way to begin your college journey as quickly as possible. In addition to this, statistics have shown that schools tend to accept more students from their early decision applications than their regular applications. For example, Johns Hopkins accepted 30% of their early applicants, compared to just 9% of their regular applicants. It should also be noted that while there is a higher acceptance rate for early decision applicants, should you not be accepted to the school, you will at least have more time to process this information and continue the application process. While this may seem like a small consolation, the time to explore more options is not something that should be overlooked during the application process.
Ultimately, early decision is a process that can be a student’s ace in the hole when applying for their dream school, but it is a decision that must be weighed carefully to ensure that it is being used effectively. Hopefully, the information provided can help you make the right decision for you as you begin your college journey.
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