Early Decision: The ultimate game of manipulation

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Happy November first, everyone!

For most people, today is just another day. The beginning of November. Not at all significant. For seniors, however, this is the day we’ve all been dreading for the past few months.

November first is, for most schools, the deadline for Early Action, and more importantly, Early Decision.

Early action isn’t very exciting, it’s just applying to a school early. Early Decision, on the other hand, can feel like the most important decision you make for all of high school. It’s not, but that’s besides the point. If you’re EDing somewhere, you’re saying that you like this school more than every other school, that you are sure that this is where your future belongs.

That’s a little scary.

Over the past few weeks, the stress has been amped up to extreme levels, with people spending every waking moment trying to figure out where they want to ED, if they’ll get in, and even making lists of everyone else who is EDing there.

For some people this is a fine path to take. They know their dream school, are totally and completely sure of themselves. I can’t relate. The reality for a lot of people, though, is that they don’t have one specific school that they know they’re meant for.

The unfortunate thing is that without an ED, it’s really hard to get into some of these schools, sometimes virtually impossible.

So, over the past few months of personal stress and observation of my peers, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole system of early decision is totally unfair and manipulative on the part of colleges.

Students shouldn’t have to say that one school is perfect. No school is perfect. For most people, they’ll fit in and have a great time at a bunch of different schools. That’s the beauty of the college process; you can apply to a variety of schools, get into a couple, and then decide based on a number of factors which one you want to attend.

EDing throws a wrench into that process.

It turns college admissions into more of a game than it already it is; students strategically choose to ED, or not to, based on if they’ll get in, if it’s a reach versus a match school, who else is applying, etc. This adds so much stress to an already stressful process.

It’s like you’re signing away your future. Well that’s a little dramatic. But it sort of is like signing away your future.

And not only does it place an unfair burden of stress and having to make a hard decision on students, there’s also a huge financial burden. When EDing, you’re making a financial commitment that some students just can’t feasibly make.

School is expensive. Saying that you’ll go to a school no matter what means you’re signing on to pay the bill. That adds another layer to the problem; some students who are equally qualified as any other ED applicant won’t be able to ED because of the price, and then might not get in.

And on top of that, the school doesn’t need to offer aid in order to incentivize students choosing their school. You already told them you’re going, giving you money can’t really change that.

What’s particularly problematic about this is that there’s already a socioeconomic disparity when it comes to college, especially the more prestigious (and expensive) ones. When it’s only kids that can pay applying, colleges are just perpetuating the problem.

For a university to essentially say “hey, if you want to go here tell us that you’ll come no matter what” seems unfair, and manipulative on their part. You’re going to have plenty of kids going to your school, what’s the point in adding another barrier that limits kids from going.

We’re already making a potentially life altering decision. It’s a big deal. A decision like that takes time, consideration, and should depend on more than just when we apply.

No matter how great ED can be for those that do actually get in, no student should have had to decide which school is the absolute best school for them by today.