Applying Early: Yay or Nay?
Although everyone’s experience with applying early is different, hearing collegiettes' experiences is a great way to learn about things college pamphlets won’t tell you. Also, it may help you weigh the pros and cons of applying early.
It’s a weight lifted off of your shoulders!
One of the best things about applying early is that a weight is lifted off of your shoulders if you’re accepted. “Applying early decision was the best decision I made in the entire college process,” says Jamie. “ It took a lot of pressure off of me during my senior year. Since I found out in December, I was able to relax for the second semester and not worry as much.” While your friends will be stressed out during your second semester, you can relax!
Early Decision has its perks!
Sometimes, applying early can even benefit you once you’re there. At Boston University, incoming freshmen who applied Early Decision get priority for housing over the other freshmen. Obviously, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor; however, it’s a nice perk!
It’s a great way to show your dedication to the school.
Applying early to a school you love can be a good thing if your grades don’t fully meet the university’s standards. “If I hadn’t applied early, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have gotten into Tufts; my grades were borderline good,” says Catherine, a sophomore at Tufts University. “Tufts especially loves their ED kids; it just show that extra level of dedication that the university looks for.”
The pressure is on!
Applying to college is a stressful process and applying early adds additional time pressure to it. Most collegiettes who apply early will agree! “There was a lot of pressure to make the decision and get the application in on time,” says Jamie. Of course, good time management skills can lower this stress.
Your major may change.
It’s important to find a school that has great programs for your major. When Catherine applied early decision to Tufts, she didn’t realize that she wanted a career in sports medicine. Unfortunately, Tufts doesn’t have a sports medicine program. “If I had known what I wanted more solidly before coming to school, I definitely wouldn’t be at Tufts,” says Catherine. “But now that I’m here, I love it too much to transfer. Since Tufts doesn’t specifically have a program for what I’m interested in, I just have to take the initiative to find opportunities, jobs, and internships that will prepare me for my future graduate program.” Applying early leaves you even less time to figure out what you’re interested in before deciding where to submit an application.
You may change your mind.
One problem with applying early to a school is that things can change: you many want a city school in the beginning of senior year and end up craving a school with more of a campus come second semester. Sarah, a sophomore at Kenyon College, originally applied early action to Georgetown; however, she decided to go to Kenyon last minute. “I chose Kenyon because it was the right fit for me,” says Sarah. “I’d like to live in a city in the future, quite possibly D.C., but I figured I’d never again get an experience quite like the small, rural liberal arts school that Kenyon offers. The difference in size played a large role in determining my choice; I thought I’d be more comfortable at a smaller school. Kenyon has about a quarter of the undergraduates Georgetown has.” While you are allowed to change your mind when applying early action, that’s not the case for early decision.
What About the Money?
Sometimes, applying early can impact your financial aid: if a school sees that you’re so dedicated to attending, they might not give you as much money. “In our experiences with students and families who decide to go early decision, they always take the con side of the financial aid process into account,” says Erin Harrison, a guidance counselor at John Jay High School. However, it’s important to get in touch with the financial aid office of the school you’re considering applying to to find out how they handle early decision and early action applicants. If you’re applying early action, you’ll still be able to compare that school’s financial aid package with those you receive from other schools. With early decision, however, you are locked in; you can still get in touch with the financial aid office though to explain to them why you need a more generous package.
Applying to college is one of the most important things a pre-collegiette experiences, so it should not be taken lightly. While deciding to apply early is ultimately your decision, it’s imperative to weigh the pros and cons first. Just remember that, as clichéd as it sounds, you will end up in the school that’s best for you. Lauren, a sophomore at Boston University, realized that everything works out through her own experience of applying early decision. “I applied to Brown University early decision and was rejected,” says Lauren. “At first, I w as very sad and thought it was the end of the world. But when I got to BU and finished a semester, I was so happy and realized everything happens for a reason.”