When colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia announced that they will be dropping their Early admissions programs, high school students, parents, and college counselors began to wonder if this was the beginning of a new trend in admissions and that perhaps more colleges were going to follow this lead.
While Early Decision options at colleges cannot benefit students who plan on comparing financial aid offers, Early Action options at colleges can. The difference is that Early Decision is a binding contract and students who are admitted under this plan must withdraw all other applications and may not submit any additional applications. However, students who apply under the Early Action plan have until May 1st to decide which college they want to attend.
So the question remains: why would a college that has an Early Action policy want to abandon this practice? We believe that it is very unlikely that more colleges with Early Action policies are going to follow Harvard’s lead. The situation for colleges with an Early Decision option may be different, and it is our belief that they will keep their current Early Decision policies in place. The bottom line is that colleges love to be loved. They want to know that if they have a student who has applied, that student will definitely attend.
While Provost Etchemendy of Stanford says, “Stanford maintains the same standards for Early admissions that it does for applications submitted under the normal deadline,” from our experience, students who apply Early Decision have a marked advantage in the admissions process. At some colleges, this advantage can mean the difference of one hundred points on an SAT.
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