As the application season gets closer, many students begin to wonder about their best strategy for getting into the college of their choice. Some students have chosen a wide variety of schools to apply to while others have a specific dream school in mind. If you do have a particular school you want to attend, you may want to ask yourself the following questions.


Should I apply Early Decision for college?

When deciding whether or not to apply Early Decision (ED), first and foremost you need to understand what it means. Applying ED requires you to file complete applications early, often as early st the beginning of November, and learning early if you have been accepted to a choice school, often as early as December.

What’s the advantage in applying ED?

Since ED acceptances are binding,, many schools accept a high percentage of ED applicants. Bear in mind that most colleges offering the ED option are quite selective; accepting students early allows them to ensure a high value incoming freshman class. When your application is reasonably competitive at a chosen school, applying for ED may increase your chances for acceptance.

How do I know which schools to apply ED?

You can only apply ED at one school, because if you are accepted, you must commit to enroll. You should only apply ED then at the school that you are most excited to attend.

Isn’t that a big commitment? What if I think I might change my mind?

Don’t apply ED impulsively. Carefully consider. Before applying ED, visit the campus and ideally spend a night and attend classes. Perceptions and reality may differ!

If you aren’t prepared to commit to enroll if accepted, you might be better off applying Regular Decision or for a second round of ED, if the school offers this option. When schools offer a second round of ED, usually in January, acceptance still requires you to commit to attend, but you might be better prepared at this later date.

What if my commitment depends on getting financial aid?

Most schools issue ED acceptances before financial aid packages can be awarded. Many, but not all, ED schools allow your commitment to be contingent on financing, but It makes sense that the schools seek ED candidates who need less aid.

Resolve financial issues before applying ED. Urge your parents to estimate their tax returns early. Ask the school’s financial aid office to provide an estimate of your expected family contribution. If you are not satisfied with the information provided, or if the acceptance is not contingent on satisfactory aid, reconsider applying ED

When your commitment hinges on financial aid, or if you can’t decide between schools, you might better apply Early Action (EA).

What is Early Action?

The EA option invites you to apply early without a firm commitment to attend. You can also apply EA to more than one school. Even without the commitment, colleges bank on a high percentage of EA applicants deciding to enroll, so applying EA can still increase your chances of admission.

If I apply ED or EA, can I put other applications on hold?

Even when applying ED, you should plan to apply Regular Decision to additional schools. Many, many schools, and notably public universities, do not offer ED or EA options.

If you are not accepted ED, you may still be considered for Regular Decision at your first-choice school, but you will have left open other options as well.