Early Decision: A Faustian Bargain?

Ms. Elena Crites

The deadline is coming.  The pressure is on. As if college itself isn’t daunting enough, how about early decision? Early decision is a binding college choice. This means that if you are accepted, you’re going. With early decision, students have to apply significantly earlier than the non-binding regular decision, as well as decide exactly which college they want to go to. Early decision requires quite a lot of certainty, and requires students to meet early application deadlines, but the rewards can be significant. It’s like signing a blood oath. But it’s worth it.

sx4SE_7szxyWs06cuTL8Pgg

Early decision usually requires applicants to submit their application by November 1, as opposed to regular decision deadlines that usually fall somewhere from December-February. There are three possible responses to an early decision application. Accepted, deferred, or denied. When an applicant is deferred, this means that the school they applied to liked their application, but before admitting the student, they’d like to see how the applicant compares to students applying regular decision. In the case that an applicant is either deferred or denied, this early response allows them time to complete and update a new application to submit to other schools during the regular decision process. For those who are accepted, they have a set college plan months before their peers, giving them some time for some much-needed rest.

Early decision has also proven itself to be a pretty elitist process. For students who are accepted early to a college and bound by their decision, they are unable to compare financial aid between multiple colleges. This ends up preventing quite a lot of students from partaking in the ED process. Naomi Williams, Chittenden Guidance Counselor, says that “while [early decision] is a great option for many students, it is a huge decision that students typically make with their families.  Since applying ED is a binding agreement and [applicants] will not be able to compare financial aid offers from multiple colleges, it is important that these factors are considered.” Most schools will allow a student to back out of the binding contract if they truly don’t receive enough financial aid, but this still leads to a missed opportunity for the student to apply ED to another school that may have provided them with enough support.

So what’s the big whoop?

Continue Reading