You’re a high school junior or senior and you’ve heard of Early Decision, but aren’t quite sure what it means? Allow us to explain!
Early Decision is an application plan that allows you to apply to a college early – in the fall of your senior year (typically by November 1 or 15). If you apply Early Decision, you will usually receive your admissions decision by December (it’s that quick!). If admitted, you would be done with your college application process before January. Sounds great, right? It can be! But there are some important things to consider.
Early Decision is a binding agreement between you and the college you’re applying to. That means that if you’re admitted, you’re committed to enroll at that institution. Upon learning of your early admission, you must withdraw your applications from all of the other schools to which you applied. You will not have the chance to find out the decisions from those other schools or to compare financial aid packages. All of this means that you can apply to only one school under an Early Decision plan (same thing applies for Early Decision II). This is different from Early Action, where you also apply early, but you can apply to multiple schools and are not obligated to commit to a school if you are admitted.
Early Decision can be a good path if you know that a school is your top choice. At a minimum, this means you’ve visited, toured, talked to current students, understand the financial aid process, and can see yourself thriving on campus. You may have also sat in on a class, stayed overnight as a part of a high-school visit program, talked to professors, and taken a tour of a specific department of interest to you. Because Early Decision is a binding commitment to a certain college, you want to make sure that you understand, as best you can, what it would be like to be a student there before signing the Early Decision Agreement when you submit your application (a family member and school counselor also sign the Agreement).
Why choose Early Decision? When you apply to a school under an Early Decision plan, you are telling that school it’s definitely your top choice. Plus, admissions rates are often slightly higher for Early Decision applicants than for Regular Decision applicants.
Here is a partial list of colleges that offer Early Decision: