Some high school students know exactly which college they want to attend and have no other schools in mind. Maybe it's the school their parents attended or it is the university that is within driving distance of home. Whatever the circumstances are, these types of students would be ideal for applying to college using Early Decision. If you are a well-rounded high school student who can back up your application with grades and activities, and you know there is only one college you are certain you want to go to, then you should apply early decision.

What is Early Decision?

Early decision programs are offered at many colleges and universities across the country. These programs give students a head start on the admission process by allowing them to apply early. These students will also receive notice of a decision earlier than usual as well. By applying under the early decision program you are showing your first choice school that they are your top choice and you are committed to attending their school. Before applying to your intended college with early decision, there are a few things you should think about to see if this is a good admission process for you.

Benefits of Applying Early Decision

  • Head Start: Applying as an early decision candidate gives you a head start on the college admission process. You will have an earlier deadline for your application, usually November, however you will also receive a decision earlier. If accepted, you can get a head start on other paperwork such as dorm assignments, college interviews, financial aid and more.

  • Admission Rates can be Higher: Statistics show that colleges and universities accept more early decision candidates than they do regular candidates. Part of this reason is because early decision candidates are positive about their decision to attend the school.

  • Two Chances of Admission: If you are declined as an early decision candidate, you may still be eligible as a regular candidate. Check with the college to see if you would have to resubmit your application for regular admission or if your application will automatically be reverted over to the later deadline.

Disadvantages of Applying Early Decision

  • Binding: Unlike early action, if you apply as an early decision candidate, your admission is binding; meaning if you are accepted, you have to attend the school. That is why this program is ideal only for students who not only fit the profile of students at the school, but who are certain that they want to attend the school. This means that you should also research tuition costs and financial aid eligibility prior to applying.

  • Restrictive: You can't apply to any other “early” programs at any other schools. You can, however, apply to other schools under regular admission guidelines.

Early decision is a program that is perfect for students who are confident in their first choice school. The ideal student is one who knows exactly which school they want to attend and knows that they have the resume to be granted admission. Research your intended college and take a look at the profile of the last incoming class so you get an idea of the kind of numbers you are up against.