Early Decision is an alternative to the regular admissions process which provides you with a binding decision by early to mid-December. Once admitted, you are required to attend and withdraw all other college applications. Why apply early decision? Here are some of the advantages over regular decision:
Some of the most selective colleges admit a significant proportion of their entering class through Early Decision, anywhere from a third to over half! Because colleges can “lock” them into the class, these students often have a slightly lower academic profile than for regular decision, so if you have your heart set on a college and fall within their middle 50% admit profile or better, you may look like a much stronger applicant in this pool.
If you are admitted, you have completed the college application process and can comfortably enjoy the rest of your senior year! (Note: All admissions acceptances are dependent on your continuing to do well academically, so don’t succumb to senioritis too much!) If you are not admitted under Early Decision, at many places you get a second chance by being reviewed under regular decision. This gives you an opportunity to update your application, preferably with stronger grades, test scores and recommendation letters.
If you’re not admitted, this can be a sign to evaluate your other college choices while you still have time. While one decision is not necessarily predictive of what will happen elsewhere, it can act as a bellwether for similarly competitive schools where the greater competition under regular decision could mean they are out of reach for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that Early Decision is binding - if you are admitted you must attend. If you must rely on financial aid you should consider this option very carefully as you may not get as generous an aid award as at another college.
Another important issue to consider is whether you can wait with applications until you raise your SAT/ACT test scores. If you think you may be able to do it, then consider hiring test prep experts, like at Prep Expert.