Early decision is a risky yet rewarding option for college applicants

Sam Rothenberg, Staff Writer

There are many different types of students: the student who wants to get ahead of the game, the student who waits until the last minute to make decisions, the student who will do whatever it takes to get ahead, the student with eight clubs and three varsity sports, or the student who is a first-generation college applicant. These factors all play a part in deciding whether a student applies early decision to a college.

Early decision is a process in which students apply to one college, usually by Nov. 1, and find out whether they are admitted by mid-December. If they are admitted, the decision is binding, meaning they are required to attend that school. Early decision may be beneficial to some students. For example, it may make sense for someone who has done a lot of research and visited a number of schools and knows that one particular school is the perfect fit. When you apply early decision, you demonstrate interest in the school, so the university knows that you will be attending, increasing their yield rate. Therefore, applying early decision may increase your chance of admission. For example, New York University admitted 38% of early decision candidates and only 28% of regular decision candidates.

“I usually recommend early action, because it increases your chances of being admitted,” said Ms. Kitty Klein, director of guidance for the Port Washington School District. “Also, [it] allows students to feel less anxious, because students know they have somewhere they can go for the next four years.”

The major difference between applying early action and early decision, however, is that early action is not binding, so you can apply to as many schools as you want in the early cycle. However, the downside of early action is that early decision applicants are more likely to be accepted. Another benefit of being admitted to a college early is a significantly less stressful senior year.

“Applying early decision to a university is not detrimental as it provides students an opportunity to complete the process in early December,” said Schreiber Alumnus Matthew Kates, a freshman at Cornell.

However, early decision is not the right choice for many high school seniors. For example, students who need financial aid to help pay their college tuition should probably apply regular decision.

“By applying to a college early decision, students are potentially limiting themselves from receiving as much financial aid as possible. In addition, students may not have explored all their options or really figured out what type of college they want to attend so early in their senior year,” said Ms.Klein. “Early decision doesn’t work for someone who will have regrets, for example, someone who will need to take a plane on holidays and is scared to take a plane.”

Most importantly, the early decision option adds to the stress of the admissions process. The early decision process has created an intense and insanely competitive environment among parents, peers, and friends. Students go to extreme lengths to protect themselves and give themselves an advantage over their peers.

“I certainly plan on applying early decision somewhere due to the fact that colleges will appreciate you better if you don’t see them as a safety school, also applying early allows for kids to better plan out their future,” said freshman Ethan Rotko.

In the admissions process, there is no one “right” way to go. Different aspects can determine whether applying early decision is positive or detrimental. You have to weigh out all of these factors. Students have so many circumstances and desires, making it a case by case issue. Applying early decision is a completely unique and personal question.