Seniors to make Early Decisions to Schools

Sean Sorek and Ben Nichols

Despite the restrictions, more and more seniors are deciding to apply early decision to their top-choice schools, and early decision applications are becoming more common at some of the most prestigious universities in the country. It begs the question: What makes early decision so appealing?

To start off, we should clear up what we mean by early decision. We are not referring to early action, where applicants simply apply earlier and get their answer earlier. Early decision is a binding agreement between a college and a student where the student is required to attend the college if admitted.

Early decision, despite being a little bit scary, can be appealing to some students. It has the obvious benefit that it makes the decision for the student, preventing the inevitable anxiety of having to decide between multiple colleges that accept a student. It’s one and done. What this situation doesn’t account for is the possibility that one could get rejected from the one school that they applied to. Students need to make sure that their college list is well rounded when applying early decision to a school, as to avoid being stuck at a safety school.

Aside from relieving some anxiety, early decision does appear to increase one’s chances of getting into an extremely competitive school. Harvard’s early admission acceptance rate was 13.4% last year, compared to a striking 4.5% for regular decision. With those numbers, it seems hard to argue against applying early, but what they hide is that more competitive (and wealthier) students are extremely overrepresented in early decision admissions. Harvard has said themselves that there is no difference between the admission requirements of early admission and regular decision.

The most major drawback of early decision is that an applicant cannot compare financial plans between different universities. The applicant is forced to accept the plan that the university offers, no matter how generous or stingy. This also means that the college has no incentive to offer a competitive offer for the student; no competition means higher prices. Considering college is getting more and more expensive each year, most students shouldn’t take the risk of applying early decision.