IMG_1529Applying early decision is the ultimate declaration of love and demonstrated interest in college admissions. Deciding whether to apply to a college early decision (ED) is on the minds of many high school seniors as they begin to finalize their college lists. However, many students and their families have lots of misconceptions about ED. Before devising an application plan that includes ED, it is essential for students and families to understand the responsibilities and limitations that go along with ED and weigh the pros and cons.

What Is ED? Early decision is a binding application agreement option for students who believe, with 100-percent certainty, that a particular college is their first choice. If accepted, the student promises to withdraw all other college applications and enroll. Don’t confuse early decision with early action, which is a non-binding early notification application plan. Not every college offers the ED option.

Who Should Apply ED? Applying ED may be a good choice for students who are 100-percent sure that they want to attend a specific college or university and agree to attend this school regardless of the amount of financial aid awarded. Before choosing this option, students should ask themselves whether their application at the time of submission is their strongest effort. If not, students should consider waiting until regular decision and try to raise their grades and test scores for that application deadline.

Who Should Not Apply ED? Students who want to compare financial aid awards should not apply ED. Students who are taking standardized testing in the late fall or are trying to improve their transcript and overall GPA should wait until ED II or regular decision to apply. Tip: check college websites regarding testing deadlines.

Are Acceptance Rates Greater for ED? Colleges often have higher ED acceptance rates, because this option helps increase the college’s yield: the percentage of admitted students who enroll in college. Often the average GPA and tests scores of those accepted ED is slightly lower than students accepted regular decision. Some schools have far greater acceptance rates during ED than others. Do your research and know the acceptance statistics for each option.

When Is The Application Deadline for ED? Traditionally, ED deadlines are in November and students receive notification in December. However, some schools have implemented two ED options, which typically have November (ED I) and January (ED II) deadlines. The ED II response date is usually in February.

Applying ED is a very personal decision that students and families should take very seriously. Students should never feel pressured into applying ED and should not choose this option because they want to finish the application process early. Above all, be realistic. Weigh your options and choose the admissions decision plan that showcases your academic strengths, while being cognizant of your financial needs.

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Applying Early Decision—Declaring Your Love
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