We’ve written previously regarding the difference between early action, early decision, and the variations on these application options.

The follow-up question is: knowing the options available, should you apply Early Decision? This is particularly vexing for students who want to impress their top school by showing their dedication, but who may be hesitant to commit themselves fully.

First a few pros:

  • Applying Early Decision (ED) shows commitment. If you’ve dreamt of a particular school for years and know in your heart that you want to be there (and know you can afford it), this is your time to shine earlier on in the application season.
  • And of course, should you be accepted, you would know your future plans earlier on in the school year. This will definitely help to alleviate a lot of stress.
  • The data on whether or not applying ED gives students a leg up varies. However, the general trend seems to be a greater acceptance rate during the ED cycle. While at some schools, this benefit is relatively small, at others the ED acceptance rate can be more than double that of the regular one.

Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold.

A few cons:

  • Once you’re committed to a school, you are also committed to their financial aid package. By contrast, students who apply and are accepted to multiple schools in early action or regular decision are able to compare financial aid packages, and even negotiate by sharing the award letters from competing schools. Thus, applying ED is sort of like throwing a die and pushing in all of one’s chips at the same time.
  • When we’re seventeen, we may not be entirely sure what we want. This writer swore she knew what she wanted at seventeen… and then changed her mind twenty times over the course of the next four years. Staying open to other options enables you to make the most well-informed decision financially as well as emotionally.

At the end of the day, your decision on whether or not to apply ED should be influenced by your finances and commitment to a particular school.