By Evan Bailyn
Should you do it?
Early decision is definitely worth it if you know where you want to go and are qualified to go there. It increases your chances of admission, and can give you peace of mind when everyone else is frantically running to the mailbox.
You may apply early to only one college, and although you may apply at the same time to Early Action colleges (with a couple of exceptions), you must enroll at the Early Decision college if it accepts you. Exception: If the Early Decision school does not offer you sufficient financial aid, you're free to apply elsewhere.
What Do I Need to do to Apply Early?
You'll need to start earlier than most applicants. You'll have to complete all your standardized tests by the end of your junior year and no later than October of your senior year, depending on what the Early Decision deadline is.
What Early Decision Means to Your Admissions Chances
Applying early decision shows a college that you are serious about wanting to go there. Also, colleges know that if they accept you as an Early Decision candidate you will enroll there. One study has shown that early decision helps students who would be considered borderline cases with regular admission, as long as they meet the admission standards of the school. Suppose You Don't Make the First Cut?
If a college does not accept you Early Decision you may still have a chance to get into that school. Depending on the college, you may automatically be added to the regular admission application pool. If not, you are free to re-apply by the regular admission deadline. Check the admission policies of each college you're interested in. There is no overriding standard for this, and policies at a college may change from year to year.
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