Pros and Cons of Early Decision

Still Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Early Decision? Read on.

Some students have known since birth that applying to a college Early Decision (ED) was the only route for them while others are still, in pumpkin-picking season, contemplating whether or not to tick that ED box.

My answer? Consider the following and then assess.

PROs of Early Decision:

Stress Alleviator
If you’re admitted into your ED choice, your application season is over mid-December. For many students, this is a HUGE pro for applying ED. Most students submit applications to a few schools Early Action (EA) and though acceptance to these colleges is gratifying, EA admittances don’t seem to hit the spot the same way as that “I’m going to BLANK school” ED notification.

Play the Odds
There’s always noise that applying ED ups a student’s chances of gaining admission. One admissions dean at a competitive SLAC (small liberal arts college) told me that statistic is only true if the ED student satisfies the criteria that the ED school is seeking. In other words, ED isn’t the best strategy to undertake if you fall below a college’s mean. After evaluating a student’s dossier and college list, I’ll often say, “You’re a player” when referring to their fit vis-à-vis their ED choice. What I mean by “player” is: You’re a competitor not an underdog.

CONs of Early Decision:

I’m Not in Love
A famous 10cc song from the mid-70s best expresses this respectable rationale for NOT applying Early Decision to college. I’ve a student this season whose parents want her to apply ED, but she’s resisting. Why? There’s not one school she’d like to attend; she loves each school on her list for different, very valid, reasons. To me, she’s the perfect EA and RD student, not an ED applicant.

Financial Aid Options
Applying ED could limit the financial aid packages a student can consider and leverage. Also, most merit-based as well as community, civic or independent scholarships are not awarded until after the ED application deadline. And, as the application pool for ED is very competitive, it might be harder to gain acceptance when neck-and-neck with students who are agreeing to pay full tuition if admitted.

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