“Will it be University of Virginia or Wake Forrest?” I pressed one of my favorite students from a few years ago. “Andy” was a senior at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Connecticut. Ultimately, he could not make up his mind. So he did not apply Early Decision to either one. He was rejected by both. While we never know if he would have been admitted Early Decision, he was someone that had the grades, SAT scores, activities and for UVA some connections to gain admission. I think he would have been admitted had he applied Early Decision
Guiding students towards the decision to apply Early Decision is one of the hardest parts of my college counseling work.
First, I share the same sentiments as many of my students: it seems too early for most to “lock-in” to one college. But I will note to all parents of juniors – START THE COLLEGE PROCESS EARLY!
Second, I do understand the possibility that financial aid could be affected. This is not clear-cut. Many colleges will give the exact package regardless of whether the student is an early admit or not. But I understand… many is not all and colleges generally keep this information close to the vest.
Third, the “game-play” is perhaps fun in the abstract – “place your early decision chip on a school that you really like in the range-reach category” but not fun when it’s your life or the life of your child.
Ultimately, I think my work here has been highly valuable because students need straight talk – Early Decision really does help admissions at many colleges – and need to make this decision without feeling stress. Regarding the latter, being the non-parent may be my biggest advantage in ensuring calm decision making.