ED: Not the best decision


November 1. You check if your birthday is correct, then that you spelled your middle name right, then maybe you check if your birth place is accurate. Finally, you press submit and have applied Early Decision to your school of choice. That dreaded date has now passed and seniors have turned in their Early Decision applications. Finally, all that stress is somewhat over for them. But should that deadline even be offered in the first place?

Early Decision deadlines are offered by over 450 colleges throughout the U.S. The Early Decision deadline gives students a boost on the admissions process because they are more likely to be accepted to that college than those students who apply Regular Decision, according to the College Confidential website. According to an article in Priceonomics, Ivy League schools gave out over 40 percent of their available freshman spots to Early Decision applicants. Similarly, Harvard accepts 21.1 percent of the Early Decision students and 8 percent of their Regular Decision applicants. Although the student will experience less stress when they submit their application early, the cons of Early Decision outweigh the pros.

Students who apply for the Regular Decision deadline are are slightly less likely to be admitted to that school than the Early Decision applicants. This creates an unfair advantage for the students who apply Early Decision there, which could lead a student feeling pressured to apply Early Decision, when they are actually not ready to commit to a single school. For students that look to improve their grades in their senior year to show colleges that they have grown, Early Decision also would be a bad option for them since they would most likely want to send in their first semester grades into their colleges.

With the Early Decision deadline, families are also only able to see that one financial aid plan from that single college and are forced to take that plan, even if it does not provide enough aid for them. For students that are not able to pay the full tuition price and rely on those financial aid plans for tuition money, they are not able to compare different plans for different colleges. This makes it hard for students from families of low income to apply confidently with the Early Decision plan. But again, these students, who should be encouraged to go to college, are going to have just a little more trouble since they will not have the benefit of the Early Decision priority.

Early Decision can also potentially worsen senioritis, since students can be committed to a school by mid December. This gives students the idea that they can slack off in their classes, more than they already would, for the whole second semester of senior year while other students are still frantically trying to finish their applications, and hit the submit button. But, colleges require students to maintain a certain GPA their second semester senior year, unless they want their admissions offer to be revoked. This extra senioritis could potentially cause their grades to drop below their required GPA, possibly causing their admittance to the college they applied Early Decision to be rescinded.

Students and their families nowadays are trying to strategize around the college process, and Early Decision is adding to their strategies. But, the college admissions process should not be about strategy and trying to cheat the system, it should be about trying to figure out what school will be right for you and seeing where you will get into based on merit and ability, not whoever is the quickest to make decisions.