From MArissa Turchi
Are you currently weighing the differences between Early Decision (ED) and Regular Decision (RD)? You’re not alone – this is one of the most common admissions-related discussions for this time of year. I wish I could give you a magic formula, one that simply tells you which decision to select, but I can’t. I can tell you this – there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to going ED or RD. You just have to figure out what option is best for you and your family.
Let’s first talk about the differences between ED and RD:
- Early Decision is designed for students who have a definitive first choice school: you’re ready to make a personal and financial commitment to a specific college and you’re excited about this choice!
- Early Decision is a binding contract: Students can only apply ED to one school. When applying ED, the applicant, their guardian(s), and their school counselor all sign a form, committing the student to enrolling at the college if they’re admitted.
- Some schools offer EDI and EDII (Bryn Mawr is one of those schools): Typically, there is no evaluative difference between the two plans, just different deadlines.
- If an applicant is admitted to their ED school, they have to rescind all their RD applications from other schools. Sometimes colleges will defer an ED applicant – this does not mean a student is not admissible, it simply means the school would like to reevaluate their application in the RD pool. In this case, students do not rescind their other applications.
- In most cases, colleges evaluate students using the same criteria for both ED and RD; however ED students show a higher level of demonstrated interest. As you consider applying ED, ask your first choice schools how their evaluation process differs in ED. At Bryn Mawr, we evaluate students the same in ED as RD.
- Ask about merit and need-based financial aid: Sometimes the awarding process varies; however, many schools award the same amount of scholarship and aid in both plans. At Bryn Mawr, we are committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted students, regardless of the application plan. We also use the same process to evaluate for merit in both ED and RD.
Although applying ED is a big decision, there are also some big benefits. Here are a few reasons why applying ED may be good for you:
- Getting your decision sooner: When applying ED, your admission decision is shared with you much sooner and, hopefully, can remove some stress so you can enjoy being a Senior.
- Higher admission rates: In most cases, a smaller number of students are applying to a college through ED. These students tend to be high achieving and highly interested in the college, so the admission rates tend to be higher. At Bryn Mawr, about 40 to 45% of our incoming class will enroll through an ED plan.
- Community engagement: Once a student is admitted to their ED school, they have more time to learn about the college’s community – to connect with faculty, current students, and their peers.
Remember: There are no “shoulds.” Early Decision is a fantastic option for many students, but also a pretty big commitment for families. Take your time, consider all the factors, and then consider the factors again as they relate to you and your family. I understand the pressures students face today to apply ED. Try to release any and all expectations the college search process places on you and make a well-informed decision that is best for you and your family.