|POCS Reality:||There are different college application programs that impact chances for admission and financial aid, differently.|
How nice it would be to apply early, increase chances for admission, get accepted early, and have the whole college application process completed by January of the student’s senior year in high school. That’s the upside of many Early Decision programs. But what is the downside?
Early Decision (ED) is a binding admission program through which students apply early (often by November of the senior high school year) to only one school, their first choice college, and if accepted, agree to attend if the school offers adequate financial aid. Upon acceptance, any other applications, such as those submitted through regular or early action admission programs, must be withdrawn.
Here are the downsides:
- Money: If colleges are only required to offer adequate financial aid under ED, and they know their school is the student’s #1 choice, they have no incentive to maximize financial aid offers to students. Worse, since all other applications are withdrawn, students do not have an opportunity to compare financial aid offers from other colleges offering admission and to ask their first choice school to match a greater award from its competitor.
- Admission Chances: Although the acceptance rate for ED applicants is higher at many colleges, at other schools the reverse is true. For those schools, ED applicants have an admission disadvantage:
- No updates: When great things continue to happen in late fall and winter, students may want to share the news with colleges. ED applicants lose their chance to update their application with info about their further senior year accomplishments.
- No options: What 17-year-olds want at the beginning of their senior year, may not be what their 18-year-old selves want as they near high school graduation. Whether it is a change of the student’s heart or mind, doesn’t matter. ED takes away college choices. So when other students are deciding in April after attending Admitted Student Days hosted by different colleges, the ED student is left holding his November basket-the one containing his only college egg.
POCSmom’s Insight: Carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of various admission programs and your ability to pay for college. If applying early appeals to you, think about Early Action programs that are not binding and usually give students until spring to make their decision, if accepted.
*POCS: Parent Of a College Student