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Around this time last year, I received my early decision acceptance letter—a time of great joy and excitement. I'm extremely grateful for the early decision opportunity and I'm infinitely glad I chose the ED route; however, there are definitely some hidden nuances to consider.

ED Acceptance
My ED acceptance letter!

To start off, for those who may not be entirely familiar with the process, early decision is an application option for students confident in their commitment to a certain school, otherwise known as a "binding decision option." In other words, if you apply ED and your application is accepted, attendance is compulsory at that given school. If you decide to apply early decision, your application gets sorted into the ED stack and decisions come months in advance (a big reason why ED was so compelling for me).

Within my own college search process, a fundamental goal of mine was to solidify my college plans during the first semester of my senior year of high school. I didn't want to be rushed or unsure by the time my last months of school were concluding—enjoying my time as a senior was important to me. Nevertheless, although I was able to craft a successful ED application, I did have a series of realizations about some of ED's disadvantges after getting accepted.

For one, what felt significant to me was the fact that all my friends were constantly bouncing off varying college offers, ideas, or packages, while I had the next four years entirely planned out for me not even halfway through my senior year. To some, this might seem like a blessing, which on most days it definitely was, but sometimes it can be hard to make that sort of commitment early on. A lot of the time during the last half of my senior year I felt myself gravitating towards "what-if?" questions regarding alternate application outcomes. For instance, "I wonder what it'd be like to get accepted to this school, or have the opportunity to compare offers between these two schools?" Early decision is a choice, a choice that has many upisdes, but I didn't really think all that much about how it would restrict my final choices especially considering my outcomes at other schools, since ED denies the opportunity to apply elsewhere once admitted (I had to withdraw a few applications).

With that being said, I do believe the pros of applying ED thoroughly outweigh the cons. The relief and underlying sense of assurance ED provides is unparalleled relative to its non-restrictive opposite (regular decision). ED is also a great opportunity to relieve stress if you're seriously considering a certain school. I knew pretty quickly after attending the Indigenous Fly-In Program that I was going to be a Dartmouth ED applicant. All things considered, I hope my insight was at least the slightest bit helpful! : )

Your friend,


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