Early Decision versus Regular Decision - does it matter?
A student who goes Early Decision or Early Action does stand a better chance of being accepted than going regular decision. Remember there are still no absolute guarantees, but the pool of students who go Early Decision or Early Action is far less while the Regular Decision pool is significantly bigger. Legacies and athletic students are encouraged to apply early as their admissions chances are greater at that point. It is also statistically proven that it is better for women to apply early decision or early action. Those students with higher financial needs also have a greater chance of acceptance in Early Decision or Early Action because these decisions are made at the beginning of the financial aid budget. Therefore money is more readily available at this time. It is important to note that Early Decision is binding which means that your student is saying that if accepted at this college he or she accepts and will pull or cancel their applications from all other colleges. Early Action is non-binding and a student’s final decision is not required until May 1. This allows students the opportunity to evaluate all of their scholarship and financial aid awards at the various schools they have applied to before making a final decision.
Again, while these admission tips are helpful, there is still no denying that college admissions today is truly a “crapshoot” as described by one admissions staffer. If a student has complete certainty that a school is “the school” then it makes sense to go for Early Decision. But understand that sometimes that does not work out the way you want. My youngest child was completely denied by her first choice, early decision school. While devastating at the time, it afforded her the opportunity to quickly reevaluate her other applications. We ended up looking for the school that was most like her first choice. She ended up getting accepted at Furman University with a $40,000 scholarship. She realized that sometimes the worst “NO” can become the most incredible “YES.” Furman ended up being the far better choice for her.