My friend’s daughter got accepted on the early decision plan. However, one of the colleges that she applied to prior to the early decision acceptance gave her a full scholarship. Her early decision school offered her no money. Her parents are refusing to finance her education in her early decision school. Can she break out of her early decision binding offer?
I suggest that your friend and her daughter read the contract again carefully to see if there is an “out” for financial reasons. Some early decision contracts require a commitment only if it offers an adequate financial aid package. No matter what the contract says, the daughter should speak with both of the schools and explain the situation and see what can be done. However, she should be prepared to go to the early decision school if they offer a reasonable amount of financial assistance. If they don’t, then hopefully they will “let her out” of her commitment. As a practical matter, I doubt that the ED school would do anything to “legally” keep her from attending the other school, although they could technically hold up her final transcript. This probably wouldn’t happen if she explained the circumstances to them. This situation does illustrate the general rule that you should not apply for early decision unless you are prepared to pay the full fare to attend.
I’ve heard that it is slightly easier to get into a top-notch school if you apply under an early admissions plan. Is this true for most schools?
I wouldn’t say it would be “slightly easier” to get into a top-notch school early decision. I’d say it would be “slightly tougher,” since you’re probably not being compare to the total applicant pool but a select portion of it. At any rate, as for the average school, I’d say “no” again.
However, I do think applying early (not necessarily early decision) can enhance your chances since some colleges have a rolling admissions policy, that is, they don’t wait until a certain date and admit the entire class, but rather admit students as applications are received. These are usually the less competitive schools. If they run out of places and you apply late, you probably have only yourself to blame.
My desire is to attend the University of Pennsylvania. One possible advantage I have is that my mother is an alumnus of the school (although this is not in any way a decision my parents have rendered upon me–I’ve decided upon this school wholeheartedly using my own judgment). However, I have a question: Should I apply for early admission, thus increasing my chance slightly and giving me a competitive edge, or work hard for the first semester of my senior year to raise my GPA and allow the institution to view my additional coursework?
Great choice. Anyway, many students feel that early decision means that they will not only be told “yes” sooner, but that they could be told “no” sooner as well. This is generally not the case. In the early decision process, you apply by some earlier date, usually November 1st, and you get a response by around mid-December. In the process, though, you sign a statement saying that if accepted, you will attend. So this is an option for only one school to which you are applying.
However, if you are not accepted, your application is generally deferred until the final acceptance decisions are made. So even if you don’t get in early decision, you still might get in. If Penn is your top choice, I would encourage you to apply for early decision. Oh, and your mom being an alumna will matter. Make sure they know it. (Many schools send a much more personal rejection letter to children of alumni, for whatever that’s worth.)
To the wise and magnificent guru: If you’re accepted under an early action plan, does that mean you won’t be accepted anywhere during the regular admissions? Methinks those Ivy League bigwigs share the admissions information.
Flattery will get your question answered in this case! When you apply for early decision, you agree that if accepted, you will matriculate. While some of your other applications will likely be out the door, it may be wise to withdraw them once accepted to your early decision school. I don’t know what they do to you if you don’t fulfill your obligation to come, but there is probably some kind of terrible financial disincentive. (And also…methinks they don’t.)
I have just been accepted under Early Decision to a very selective school. How important are my final year grades? I feel that I am slipping in several subjects, due to various whatnots of the senior year. I want to know how much weight the colleges place on my final report card. And would they withdraw acceptance contingent to my performance?
Generally admissions to a college—early decision or otherwise—is indeed contingent upon successful completion of your senior year. Read carefully what the school’s policy is on that—for your average school, you’d pretty much have to murder the entire school year to have acceptance withdrawn. For a selective school, expectations may be higher. Call the admissions office if you need specific advice. Colleges expect you perform at about the same level during your senior year.
Why are some colleges early-decision? There’s one school that I would really like to attend that is highly selective and also early-decision, but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with a “binding contract.” However, if there’s a better chance of gaining admission, maybe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. What are your thoughts? I appreciate all your help!
Applying to a school on an early decision (binding) basis can be an advantage to both the student and the school: The student demonstrates a sincere interest in attending the school and has his application considered among a smaller group of candidates, and schools get early commitments to attend from a generally more highly qualified batch of applicants. If you’re admitted to a school on an early-decision basis, you will normally know whether or not you’re accepted by December or January–a significant four to five months earlier than the rest of your classmates. You’ll be expected to keep your grades up, but the worry of “which college will I go to?” is lifted. If you’re counting on financial aid, you should be sure come to an agreement with the school that your enrollment is based on getting the financial aid that you need.
If you know there is a certain school you wish to attend, applying early-decision can be a benefit. It’s hard to say whether you have a better chance of being admitted by applying for early decision. You may have a slightly better chance at some schools because the pool of early decision applicants is smaller. On the other hand, the early decision applicants tend to be a stronger group of candidates. I would check with the schools in which you’re interested to see if they can give you some idea of whether your chances are improved (but keep in mind you can only apply to one school for an early decision).
I can’t think of any disadvantage to applying early decision if you know there is one particular school you want to and are able to attend (subject to the comment above about financial aid and assuming that your credentials are in the ball park for admitted students at that school). At most schools, if you’re not accepted under early admission, your application is put into the regular admission process so you’ll still have a shot.
No school, however, is only early decision. However, some schools also have an “early action” plan whereby you’re notified earlier of the admission decision. However, unlike early decision, you’re not bound to attend if you’re admitted under early action.If you’re considering early decision or early action, make sure you meet all the deadlines for submitting your application and other materials.
If one applies early decision, can the application be withdrawn prior to receiving the decision by mail?
Technically speaking, you may be able to withdraw an early decision application before receiving a decision. However, it’s not something I would recommend. First of all, I assume that this is something you’re considering doing within the next few days since most schools send out their early decision letters by mid-December. The biggest problem here is that it’s too late. Schools have almost certainly already made their decisions, even if you haven’t received a letter yet. Consequently, your withdrawal may violate the agreement to matriculate to the school in question if they’ve already made a decision, in which case you would be subject to the consequences of breaking that agreement.
Applying somewhere early decision is a huge commitment and responsibility — one of the biggest you’ll shoulder before you enter college. Withdrawing your application this late in the process virtually ensures that you won’t be able to get into that school regular admission. Moreover, when students back out of attending a school after applying early decision, that school tends to tell lots of other schools, which could make it difficult for you to get in elsewhere.
In other words, this is a big decision, and could reflect very poorly on you regardless of whether the school had admitted you. Consequently, I suggest you seriously rethink your idea. I recognize that there may be some good and unforeseen reason why it would be a hardship for you to attend. If, after serious consideration, you have determined this to be the case, it probably is best to speak to the school first before trying to withdraw your application. Once again, though, I strongly encourage you to not make this decision lightly.
What happens if I decide I don’t want to go to a school I got into early decision? Is there any way to break it? Or, if I want to go somewhere else, do I have to attend that school and then transfer?
Applying to college under early decision is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make this early in life, and recanting that decision is a move with consequences that could adversely affect you for years to come. If you’re toying with the idea of breaking your agreement, you better be absolutely certain that you’re making the right decision. After all, you are the one who will have to live with the consequences. Additionally, many students waver about where they want to attend college. If you’ve suddenly had a change of heart for whatever reason, it’s probably in your best interest to visit the school and speak with students and professors there before making a final decision, rather than acting impulsively.
Technically speaking, the school you’ve been admitted to early decision can’t “make” you attend that college. That said, there are some pretty steep consequences of breaking the early decision agreement—most notably, that school notifying other colleges of what you’ve done, and those schools, in turn, possibly blacklisting and rejecting you. Likewise, the school in question will blacklist you, thereby preventing you from successfully gaining admission to that school as a transfer student or graduate student at a later date.
With that in mind, it might be worth attending the school you’ve been admitted to as planned. You can always transfer later if you really hate it. However, you may end up loving it. After all, there was some reason you wanted to apply to that school in the first place. To learn more about the consequences of breaking your early decision agreement with the institution you’ve been admitted to, you’ll need to refer to the agreement you signed when you submitted your application and review your admission offer.
Just last week, I got very disappointing news from a dream school to which I applied Early Decision. It is an extremely selective school (about a 23% acceptance rate), and I understand that virtually every applicant is an amazing student. This is why I wasn’t arrogant enough to expect to get in, because the school can afford to be extremely selective and because I knew I was aiming high. Still, I’m not quite sure how to deal with my deferral. I’ve started beginning other applications now, since I have been released from my binding agreement. Unfortunately, deadlines are coming up so soon, that I must work harder to have everything in by their respective deadlines. The only thing that I wonder about is what did I do wrong, or what was deficient in my application that led to my deferral? I matched the school’s profile in SAT scores, have had an extremely rigorous course load, managed to keep an A average despite a couple low math grades, am very involved in extracurriculars in which I’ve held positions, and received very nice recommendations! Is competition in highly selective schools so keen that admissions officers have to resort to looking at individual grades or something? I just wish I knew where I was lacking, or if I was lacking at all! I know that there’s a possibility I may get in later, but I’m just so amazed at how competitive college admissions has become! There should be no reason for colleges to have to reject so many qualified applicants! Guru, what can I do to turn my deferral into an acceptance come April? Thank you for listening and responding to my questions!
First of all, you should be very proud of all of your accomplishments to date. Wherever you end up attending college, I am sure that you’ll be a huge success.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why you were deferred by the school you applied to Early Decision. Admissions committees evaluate a combination of grades, rigor of an applicant’s curriculum, class rank, essays, recommendations, extracurriculars (and leadership in extracurriculars in particular), and SAT/ACT scores. Each admissions committee also has its own logic for putting together a diverse entering class of students who are considered good “fits” for that particular school.
As far as improving your odds of being admitted Regular Decision at this school and others, it’s important that you don’t let this one minor setback get you down. The Early Decision process is now more competitive than ever, and most of the students applying ED are some of the top in their classes. As a result, admissions committees are forced to reject or defer plenty of qualified candidates. Not getting in ED is thus not a judgment on your intellect or your prospects for a successful college career. After all, you can get an excellent education at dozens of schools as long as you are willing to seize the opportunities you’re presented with.
For the school you applied to Early Decision, I recommend sending a brief letter reiterating your interest in attending and illuminating why you’re a good fit for that school. You could even have an additional person submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf, assuming that recommendation will add something to your application that isn’t already there. It’s also important that you make sure that this school promptly receives your most recent transcripts so they can evaluate your application using your new grades and GPA.
For the other schools you’re applying to, ask your parents, an older friend or sibling, or a teacher you respect to read your essays and make suggestions for improvement. Also ask them to look over your paper application to make sure you didn’t make any errors on the form. Once you’ve done these things, you should be able to hone your applications and submit them with confidence.
I’ve applied to a prestigious school for early decision and signed an early decision for that particular school. I have also, under the advisement of my high school adviser, applied to other schools under early decision that do not require early decision agreements. I am now worrying over this because I do not want to break my agreement and risk being rejected over this. I was under the impression that as long as I contact the other schools and decline, if I am accepted under the early decision agreement, that it was fine. Is that correct?
It may be that you applied under early action to the other schools, not early decision…in which case, your situation is just fine (as long as you applied under non-restrictive early action). But it wouldn’t hurt to double-check the other school’s policies and double-check with your adviser as well. Sometimes the early admissions world can be quite confusing, and your best bet is always to read the fine print. If you find you’ve accidentally applied early decision to two schools (which is a very rare scenario), then you need to remedy that as soon as possible.
I am a senior in high school, and I want to apply to a couple of schools for early admission. My SAT scores aren’t the greatest though, if I apply for college early admission, and the school denies me, can I take the SATs over again and then apply again for regular admission? Then would the new SAT scores be taken into effect?
Colleges typically accept the best SAT scores they receive. If you apply under early decision, it’s possible you may be deferred (with your first SAT scores) in order for your preferred college to see if your scores improve.
But keep in mind, if you are rejected from early admission, usually you are not accepted regular admission either. The rejection is final. So if you’re worried about your scores, you may want to wait and simply apply under regular admission. You might want to call up the school’s admissions office or peruse the website to make sure of its specific admission policies.
My son is considering applying for early decision at his top pick school. However, we probably won’t qualify for financial aid due to our middle class income, and he has a reasonable amount of money from his grandparents (in his name) for college. That being said, he doesn’t want to spend all of his money on his undergrad work and have nothing left for grad school. Can he turn down an early decision agreement if they don’t offer him sufficient non-need financial or aid?
Typically these agreements are binding, not able to be turned down. The only reason you can slip out of an early decision agreement is because a financial package offered is not enough to cover all the financial needs. However, it is still risky, especially since what you consider “sufficient” might be different than what the school considers sufficient. Just as a general rule, if your son should apply under early decision, he needs to be prepared to accept the costs in case the school wouldn’t let him out of the agreement. I highly suggest that you talk with the financial aid office about your options beforehand. Also read the contract very carefully before signing anything. Here’s another excerpt from the MCG blog that might help:
“When considering whether or not to send in an early decision college app for a particular school, try to imagine paying for that school without any financial help. If that thought makes you uncomfortable (or just downright nervous), you should check to make sure that your application is subject to your receiving the minimum amount of financial aid you’ll need. Otherwise, you might end up getting bound to attend that school regardless of the amount of financial aid offered.”
Good luck as you make your decisions.
I’m applying to colleges this fall and had a few questions about the rules of applying early decision, early action, and for the spring semester. I just graduated high school but due to an emergency surgery and then following complications from the surgery, I was unable to apply for the fall 2011 semester with the rest of my classmates. My plan was to apply to the schools I wish to attend for a spring semester application. However, not all of the schools that I am applying to offer a spring semester application date. One of these is my top school, Tufts University. So my plan was then to apply to Tufts early decision for the fall 2012 semester and apply to the other schools for the spring 2012 semester. But due to my current health, I was wondering if, instead of applying early decision to Tufts for the fall 2012 semester and to the rest of the schools for the spring 2012 semester, could I instead apply to Tufts University early decision for the fall 2012 semester, some of the schools early action for the fall 2012 semester, and a couple of schools for the spring 2012 semester? Is it all right to apply early decision for one school, early action for one or two schools, and also for the spring semester for one or two other schools? My guidance counselor didn’t know, so I really don’t know what to do here. If you know the answer to my question and are able to let me know, that would be really helpful. Thank you so much!
You should apply early decision IF and only if you are sure you want to go to that school and no other if you are accepted. In other words, if you know absolutely that Tufts University is your top school, then it’s fine to apply early decision to that school. Just remember you’ll have to withdraw all other applications if you are accepted.
Now, if you’re thinking of applying early action to a couple of other schools, you must make sure that these plans are non-restrictive early action. What that means is that they’ll let you apply to other schools under early action or early decision as well. If you apply someplace under restrictive early action, that school will not let you apply early action or early decision anywhere else. So, again, you can apply early decision to one school and early action to a couple more schools if they are non-restrictive early action plans.
Make sense? And then, of course, feel free to apply to a few other schools under regular decision as well. I must tell you, though, that if you are applying under early plans you will probably have to wait until the fall 2012 semester to attend any college. For example, by applying to Tufts University under early decision, you are basically saying to Tufts, “I am willing to wait till fall 2012 to attend your school because it’s where I want to be the most.” I doubt you can start attending another school in the spring 2012 semester after you’ve already applied early decision to Tufts.
But if you’re still wondering about that…I suggest you call up the admissions office at Tufts and ask them to confirm that. They’re there to help you.
I really want to go to George Washington University, but my grades and test scores are not fully worthy of this school. Though my scores aren’t high enough, this is the only school I want to go to. Would it be a bad idea to apply early decision?
Early decision is a great option for students who know that a school is their top choice and want to gain a competitive edge in the admissions process. However, if you’re not sure that your grades meet the profile or requirements for this school, you may not want to apply early decision. An early decision application an only be used on one school, and it binds you to the decision. It sounds like you are unsure of your ability to gain entrance, which means that you may be unsure about your ability to receive scholarship opportunities. I wouldn’t advise you to bind yourself to one school if admitted when you may have a chance of better financial aid offers at other great schools. Your best plan would include applications to a wide variety of schools where your grades and test scores meet the profile for entering freshmen. If you do make this choice, understand that you can only apply early decision to one school, and that you won’t be able to change your mind if you are granted admission without any financial aid or scholarships. Good luck!
I applied to a school that I will most likely get into with early decision. I haven’t gotten a letter or email yet of their decision. Another school on my list is much more of a reach for me but I would like to attend there more than the early decision school. If I get into my reach school before my ED schools decision can I withdraw my ED?
Sorry, early decision is binding, meaning that you have already pledged to attend that school if accepted. The process means that you agree to withdraw other applications if accepted by your early decision school. It’s a tough call whether to apply early decision, which is why many people do not. However, if you are accepted by your ED school remember that you should be elated, not dejected! You chose to go “all in” on that school for a reason and even if it seems your reasons may have shifted, try to remember all the things you loved about it when you first applied. I hope that the acceptances work out the way you want them to.
My friend’s daughter has just been accepted early decision to her #1 choice college. The financial offer she received was ok but the school is in the top 5% of most costly schools in New York, which will leave a massive cost to pay per year. Their income will not allow any financial aid, however their expenses are very high. We were at a social event that other friends had suggested that they could try to renegotiate the financial package they were offered. I questioned if that puts their daughter at risk of having her acceptance withdrawn. Can the school can back out of the “deal” if they try to negotiate the amount of the financial package awarded? I wouldn’t want them to react to suggestions from friends that are not aware of the early decision agreement. What is the real risk?
Hi there, great question. Early Decision can be tricky and while there are many advantages, one of the very real drawbacks is that you can’t compare financial aid packages among schools. By applying ED you have committed to attending there if the financial aid package is deemed adequate. Now, if it’s not, then you can refuse acceptance and apply elsewhere. However, there is no reason not to contact the financial aid office and discuss your extenuating circumstances that may allow you to qualify for more aid than you originally were offered. They may not offer more aid, but they won’t withdraw the offer to attend. It will be up to the family to determine if they are able to find the rest of the tuition through loans, but they don’t need to worry that the college will rescind the admissions offer.