By: Brittany Clausman
University of Michigan 2015, Bachelor of Arts in Communications

It’s October, and that means for some of you, it’s a crucial point in your college application process. It’s even more crucial for those of you who have decided that the best route for your application is to apply Early Decision. For others, you might still be on the fence for which method of application you should utilize. At Parros College Planning, we want you to put your best foot forward, and if that means applying sooner rather than later, we’re here to help you decide, with part-one of our two-part article series describing the process and reasons why you might want to apply Early Decision.

If you don’t know already, for many colleges, prospective students have the ability to apply with the Early Decision (ED) method. ED applications are usually due incredibly early (in most cases, November 1st of your senior year in high school,) and you’ll typically hear a response to your Early Decision application within a month. Early Decision differs from other early application methods due in large part to commitment it implies. ED signifies to the college that they are your top choice; a choice you feel so strongly about that you are willing to be contractually bound to said college if you gain acceptance. If you are accepted via Early Decision, you must attend that college (with only one exception to this rule,) and all other applications to alternative schools will be dropped.

What are some of the reasons one should apply Early Decision you may be wondering. Or why should or shouldn’t you apply Early Decision? Here’s a few things to consider if you are curious or considering Early Decision:

  • First of all, know the severity of ED. This option should only be used for your top choice school, and only after you are certain that you have perfected your application. Also be sure to know what it means if you are accepted. One of the biggest cons with applying ED is that it is almost impossible to opt out of this college, and you must accept the financial or merit based aid they offer to you. If the financial aid offered to you is insufficient, then and only then are you able to refuse acceptance to the college. Keep in mind though, the onus is on you to prove that the financial aid package is not enough.
  • If you do decide to opt out, don’t be surprised if the college contacts other schools or guidance counselors to inform them of your choice to break the bound of Early Decision, something not too many schools look kindly upon.
  • Some schools (like Harvard and Yale) do not allow you to apply Early Action at other schools while using their Early Decision application process. It’s confusing, unnecessarily complex, and will ultimately require a lot of effort on your part. At Parros College Planning, our experience has allowed us the opportunity to know exactly which of you should consider applying Early Decision and why.

It’s not all bad, however (why would it exist if it was?) and there are some notable benefits for students who apply the Early Decision route.

  • Some statistics show that the rates of acceptance based off Early Decision can increase your acceptance rate up to 33%. This 33% is equivalent to a 150 point bump in your SAT score. If you think your scores are not up to standard, this might be an incentive for you. For Ivy Leagues like Cornell, applying early has been shown to be a significant factor in their acceptance rate.
  • Applying early also gives the benefit of a quicker response rate. If you know your application status within a month of applying (which is typically the time period it takes to hear back from your ED school,) planning and other preparations for college becomes much easier. You can take this extra time to start looking for housing, review course guides, contact certain professors, or do various other activities that make it easier to transition to your first year of college.
  • All of this is also dependent on if you get accepted ED, of course. For instance, if you are deferred, then all the benefits of applying ED will be nullified, as your application will be judged within same pool of students who applied in a regular admissions way. If you apply ED and are denied, for many schools that means that you cannot re-apply during the regular admission period. Consider these facts before applying Early Decision.

If you are unsure of any of the previous points or not sure if the school you are applying to even has an Early Decision option, it might be time to contact someone with more knowledge on the matter. We at Parros College Planning have over 20 years of experience traversing the tricky process of applying to college. We know that time is limited, especially if you are working hard to keep your grades up and applying to multiple colleges. We can assist in not only determining if you are ready to apply Early Decision, but also what schools are most willing to accept you based on this decision. It is our ultimate goal to make sure you know everything you can about applying for college, and that you ultimately will be accepted to the right college for you.