Is early decision really the right decision?

Seniors have the choice of early action and early decision for college applications

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Every year, thousands of high school seniors go through the hectic process of college admissions.

The first semester of senior year is full of stress over the  college application process. The second semester is full of stress over waiting for acceptance letters.

However, some students decide to apply early decision. This arrangement allows a student’s chance of getting into a college goes up, but the student’s ability to choose another college or bargain and comparison-shop for better colleges with financial-aid deals goes away.

There is, however, another option: early action (EA). Early action plans are non-bidding. You can EA to as many schools as you want, and you don’t have to attend.

EA is better if you aren’t sure you want to go there, and like ED, you will receive your admission decision in December.

Senior Ilana Nazari, who chose to do early action for one of her schools, said, “I recommend EA for sure, because it takes a lot of stress off your senior year when you find out early. I didn’t personally like the commitment of early decision.”

Post High School  Counselor department chair  James Conroy believes that there is a downside to early decision.

“If you want the best deal of scholarships and money you shouldn’t do early decision because you have to live with whatever the school gives you. You won’t be able to compare and decide with other schools when applying in this process,” said Conroy.

Senior Kelly Olvany agrees, “The scholarship opportunities are tricky for students because not each student and family is given the scholarship and financial aid needed.”

Some students think that there are also some disadvantages for early action.

  “Time management is very important, you must get your applications done early and you must know which schools you want to apply to early. Plus, some schools are restricted early action which means you can only apply there early,” said Nazari.

However,  there are benefits for applying early decision.

Conroy said, “There is a smaller pool of applicants applying for early decision rather than a large pool of applicants who are making a regular decision, which can help the colleges narrow down their choices. Early decision definitely increases your chances on getting accepted to a college.”

Olvany cited a few reasons for choosing to apply early, “I applied early decision because it greatly increases your chances. I also wanted to know early and a lot of my schools didn’t offer early action. I recommend early decision only if you’re sure about the school and the price that it comes with.”

“Additionally, being able to get excited and joining a bunch of group chats with your future classmates is awesome, everyone is so psyched, plus, I already found my roommate, which is a lot easier,” she added.

Conroy highly encourages students to visit the school before making an early decision during their junior year, possibly during spring break or during the summer.

Senior John Spaulding said, “You should also visit the school before you apply during the summer or during Junior year so you know you’re making the right decision. Early decision was beneficial for my brother, so I wanted to try it out and my parents supported me.”

On the other hand, Nazari didn’t have to visit her schools, partly because it was an early action and it is a bit more relaxed than early decision.

“I didn’t really visit any of my schools. If you want to visit your early decision or action schools then the summer or the beginning of senior year would be a perfect time for that.”

Due to the benefits of applying early, many colleges noticed a sharp rise in the number of early applicants. Over the past four years,  Collegiate Gateway, a college counseling website has noticed some trends.

“Harvard has seen an increase of 38%. Northwestern, Princeton, and Williams have experienced increases of 30% or more.”

In 2017, there are many colleges that have a  record-breaking numbers of early applications. These  include “Barnard (up 19% from last year), Columbia (up 16%), Cornell (up 10%), Georgetown (up 11%), Northwestern (up 23%), Wesleyan (up 17%), and Williams (up 25%).”

Regardless of your college plans for the future, it is imparative that you  are aware of the different ways to apply and the benefits of either early or regular decision.