Applying Early Admission to College

"The early bird catches the worm", so sayeth Benjamin Franklin. 

While most college applicants are not interested in worms, many are facing deadlines in the next few weeks as they apply to one top college for Early Decision (ED). While there are certain benefits to ED, there are some cases in which ED may be a bad idea. Before hitting "submit", consider:
  • that your ED application and any accompanying essays must be flawless. This is your time to show your best self. Your application needs to be free of errors and your essays and personal statements must complement that application. Don't rush just to apply early!
  • that if you need financial aid to attend, it may be a good idea to wait for regular decision when you will be able to compare financial offers from multiple colleges. You will not have the ability to negotiate with your ED school. Would you pay full price for your ED school if XYZ school gave you a full ride? If you can't answer "yes", reconsider ED.
  • whether you have finished your college search. If you are still looking at colleges, you may find something more suitable in the coming months.
  • will your fall grades and test scores boost your chances for acceptance? If so, consider waiting to apply regular admissions (or ED II if the college offers it).
Hopefully this goes without saying, but you need to be positive that your ED school is the place for you. If you are accepted, you must immediately withdraw applications from any other schools. When you applied ED, you basically said, "if you accept me, I'll be there".
There are clearly benefits to applying ED. Many colleges accept a higher percentage of applicants during ED, thereby increasing your odds of admission. It is also a great feeling for a high school senior to "be finished" with the whole application process by mid-December, allowing them to focus on school work, activities and enjoying the final months of high school. ED is a great option for some students. Just take the time to consider if it's a great option for you.