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Why You Should Apply Early Decision This Year and Other Useful Tips

By Laura Whitmore

With the college application season upon us, I wanted to share some insights and recommendations based on current college admissions trends. I believe this insight will assist you or someone you know if you are applying to college in 2023-2024.

Why Early Decision is Better than Early Action

Numerous people hold the belief that applying through Early Action may enhance the likelihood of being accepted, a perception that has contributed to a surge in early applications. However, the actual increase in acceptance chances via Early Action is often marginal, as this option doesn't require a binding commitment on the part of the applicant. Top-tier schools closely track their yield rates, which signify the proportion of students who enroll after being offered admission. Since these yield rates factor into a school's position in the U.S. World News Report rankings, highly competitive institutions are more likely to favor applicants who choose Early Decision. This option is binding and guarantees that the student will attend if accepted, aligning more closely with the schools' interest in maintaining high yield rates.

How many schools can you apply Early Decision to?

It is crucial to understand that since early decision is a binding commitment, you can apply to only one school this way. Multiple early decision applications are not permitted, as you would be bound to all accepted offers. If found out, schools may rescind the offers, leading to losing your spot.

The common categorization strategy of dividing schools into "safeties," "targets," and "reaches" continues to hold true. However, the competitive nature of admissions today has led to a slight increase in the average number of schools to which students apply, especially due to test-optional policies.

How many schools total should you apply to?

It's worth noting that applying to an excessive number of schools (such as 20) may negatively impact a student's mental well-being and isn't helpful to schools or teachers. A balanced list of 10 to 12 schools, achieved through diligent planning, should be sufficient. The college application process can be emotionally taxing, and rejection is not a measure of a student's worth. Focus on target schools and a reasonable number of reach schools.

Should you tell others where you are applying?

Additionally, discretion in sharing information about where you're applying and test scores is advisable. College admissions is a unique process, often leading to the first experience of rejection for many students. Sharing this personal journey extensively might worsen the emotional impact. Keeping the process more private, sharing only with close family, counselors, and trusted friends, can ease the process.

In conclusion, the process of applying to college requires careful consideration and a balance of choices. Understanding the dynamics of early decisions, privacy, and the need for a well-balanced list of schools will aid in a smoother application experience.

For more useful insights and tips, please check out this video that features my college planning friend, Amy Miller, and covers all trends in the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. Best of luck to you on your college application journey!


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