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Applying Early Decision (ED) v. Regular Decision (RD)—what are the benefits and drawbacks?

A: shuyi

Thanks for the question! Personally, I applied ED (Early Decision) to Dartmouth and haven't looked back since. However, I also know some of my friends applied RD (Regular Decision) and couldn't imagine picking a school without applying to more than one. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to collect a variety of college application experiences to answer your question, from ED to RD! Although you should know that Dartmouth's ED acceptance rate is higher than its RD acceptance rate, I'll focus on the benefits and drawbacks of the actual application experience, rather than talk about your chances of getting in. For that aspect of the application process, you should probably talk to an Admissions Officer! 

I applied ED because I was sure that Dartmouth was the school for me! I learned about the college primarily by talking to current students and visiting campus, and loved the overall vibe I was getting. Getting accepted ED was great not only because I was able to end my application process early and enjoy my senior year, but also because I had more time to get excited about Dartmouth. Instead of choosing between colleges in the spring, I got to explore the different dorms I might be living in and the different classes I'm interested in! 

Jack '23 says, "I applied RD to Dartmouth and was lucky enough to pick between Dartmouth and other top schools. I really enjoyed the RD process, because I got to reflect on what was important to me while writing my essays and going to prospective student programs! I actually got into the school that I had originally applied Early Decision to after getting deferred, but I chose Dartmouth after going to Dimensions! I'm really grateful for the RD process, as I learned a lot about myself and what I want in college. Of course, I wish I only had to write one essay instead of 10+, but you definitely learn a lot through writing them!"

Emily '22 says, "I applied ED, got deferred, and then accepted to Dartmouth! Although it would have been nice to got accepted the first time round, getting deferred from Dartmouth gave me an opportunity to reflect on if Dartmouth was really my first choice. As I applied to other schools, I was able to picture myself at other schools and even fall in love with them! However, when Dartmouth gave me that acceptance letter, I realized I still wanted to go to Dartmouth. The way I picked a school was by picturing how I would grow at each one, and which version of myself I liked best. Ultimately, I liked the Dartmouth version and I'm happy with the way it turned out!"

As you can hear from these stories, there isn't a right answer on ED vs. RD. Each path has its benefits and drawbacks, and it depends on where you are in your application process and what kind of person you are! I would advise you to make your decision with your high school counselor, who know the process best, and your friends and family, who know you best! No matter what, I think most everyone is ultimately happy with where the college application brings them, so just enjoy the ride. Good luck!

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