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Deciding where to go to college can seem a little overwhelming. You have many options and different factors to consider, such as location. Early decisions can help you get into your dream school and show your commitment. Here is everything you need to know about an early decision for college.
What Is It?
Early decision for college is when you apply for only your top choice school. If you get in, the contract is binding, which means you have to withdraw all other applications. So, it’s the best option for students who know where they want to go after graduation.
Therefore, it’s essential to research the school and courses before making any decisions. These deadlines are earlier than regular emissions, usually in November. Keep in mind this is different than early action, which is non-binding.
The Pros of Early Decision
Figuring out where you want to go early on can save you stress. You can spend less time filling out applications and nervously waiting for an answer. Here are a few of the other advantages to consider.
1. You Only Have to Fill Out One Application
With the early decision for college, you only have to fill out one application, which saves you time. Filling out multiple applications can be time-consuming, taking away from your studies.
The process can take around six weeks to fill out background information and documents. Another benefit is early decision saves you money, since some applications come with a fee.
2. You Have Less Competition
The applicant pool for early decisions is often smaller. Many students don’t know where they want to attend or may not commit to one university. With fewer students, you have a higher chance of getting in. For example, Williams College accepted 31.3% of applicants to the class of 2026. Also, with fewer applicants, your extracurricular activities are more likely to stand out.
3. You Have More Time to Prepare for School if Accepted
Knowing your decision earlier allows you to start college preparation sooner. You will receive the decision around mid-December. You can then start looking at housing and meal plan options. Plus, you have more time to shop for essential dorm items, such as shower shoes and a laundry hamper. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll be.
4. Motives You to Work on Applications Sooner
Sometimes it can be easy to push off applying, especially if you have a lot going on academically. Knowing that you need to fill out the paperwork sooner gives you an extra push. The more excited you are about the institution, the easier the application process will feel. Also, since it’s your dream school, you may be motivated to put your best foot forward.
5. You Can Still Look at Other Options if Not Accepted
Suppose you’re not accepted based on the early decision. Your application may be deferred to the regular decision pool. Then you can have a little time to reassess your options. You might even realize that school wasn’t the best fit for you. So, try to apply regular decision to multiple universities’ to have a backup.
Things to Consider About Early Decision
While finding out early can take off some of the pressure, there are still a few things to consider. Here are a few of the drawbacks of early decision for college.
1. You Have to Get Materials Ready Sooner
With the early deadlines, you need to have excellent time management skills. You’ll need to gather multiple documents, such as letters of recommendation and essays. These can take time to prepare, especially when juggling school and extracurricular activities. That’s why it’s good to start preparing during the summer before your senior year.
2. You Can’t Compare Financial Aid Packages
Keep in mind if you’re accepted, you have to go, which means you’re locked into their financial package. Suppose it doesn’t cover enough; you may need to look into scholarships. So, it’s essential to research economic opportunities ahead of time. Check their website or call the financial office directly before applying.
3. You Have Fewer Grades and Activities to Report
Remember the admission office can only see the work you have done up until that point. If you think your GPA will rise in the fall semester, you may want to wait. Also, suppose you’re involved in certain activities, like sports. You may need time to showcase your achievements. Remember, you want to make a good impression on the admission officers. Sometimes that means waiting to apply until your grades are at their highest.
4. You Are Competing Against Qualified Applicants
Often the students who apply earlier have stronger qualifications. They may have higher grades or excellent letters of recommendation. Since it’s their dream school, they will put their best effort forward. Some admission officers are also selective since there are limited spots. So, if you don’t feel you have a strong enough application, it may be better to wait for the regular decision process.
5. It’s Binding
If you get accepted, you’re obligated to enroll, so you don’t want any regrets. Before making this decision, do extensive research. Know everything about the school and be confident in your decision. For example, learn information about the programs they offer and the social atmosphere. It’s also a good idea to visit the campus in person.
Is Early Decision for College Right for You?
Going to college is a new adventure for many students. Yet, choosing where to go can be alot. The early decision for college is one way to reduce stress and save time. Just be sure it’s your dream college, and you have done the research.