Opening the email detailing your fate at 3 A.M. with half your hair pulled out can end in a multitude of reactions, depending on if its “Congratulations,” or “We regret to inform you.” (Apologies for the traumatic flashbacks — you got it this regular round!).
For those unfamiliar to the process of applying to colleges (so innocent and so lucky), a process known as Early Decision (ED) is a binding plan where a student is required to attend the school if admitted. A student who ED’s is generally someone who has thoroughly researched their college, knows it’s their first choice, and may be applying to the university as an ED because it is competitive in nature or they don’t quite meet the academic cutoffs. The reason for this is applying Early Decision may give an advantageous edge in admissions. With this, and with the thought in mind that an ED college is a student’s first choice, it is extremely stressful and nerve-wracking waiting for the all-important day of admissions decisions: December 15th.
Kathryn Wilson always knew she wanted to go to college in California. In the past she believed University of Southern California was the perfect fit, donning her red and yellow sweatshirt that proudly printed USC — but ultimately, she decided the prestigious Claremont McKenna College was the school she saw herself at. Due to Claremont McKenna’s extremely low acceptance rate of only 9.4%, she acknowledges that her reason for deciding to ED is that better chance of getting in. Additionally, through some college strategizing (and thanks to a senior’s best friend Family Connection), she noticed that in the past, no one had gotten in through Regular Decision. “Applying Early Decision would bump up my chances of getting in,” Kathryn states.
For Justine de Jesus, she had three top schools in mind but just went with what her gut was telling her. She decided to ED to the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, which has the same acceptance rate as that of Claremont McKenna. Because of the highly competitive nature present in all Ivy League admissions, she believed that EDing to the school she liked just a little bit more than the other two would greatly help her chances. Essentially, the reason to apply Early Decision is that it can be the difference between an acceptance and a denial letter in your online portal, as Alan McDermott states when applying Early Decision to Boston University.
What is a “perfect fit?” A college should be a strong match academically, socially, financially, and geographically in order to be declared as “the one.” Kathryn fell in love with Claremont McKenna’s small school size (contrasting to USC’s larger size), the fact that everyone seemed to be like a family supporting each other, and CMC’s highly ranked liberal arts program that would allow her to receive a holistic college education. “I think I want to do law, but I’m not sure yet, so going to a school like Claremont McKenna would allow me to explore different majors that may appeal to me more,” Kathryn says. For Alan, he decided BU was “the one” because his sister also attends, and because BU is a top ranked school in the US. “There are lot of post-grad job opportunities from BU,” Alan states. Justine loved the whole environment of UPenn: “I want to do something interdisciplinary regarding art and science, and UPenn offers really strong majors relating to visual studies about art, psychology, and art history. The campus is also located in its own town but five minutes away from the city, a cultural hub that is the kind of exciting and stimulating experience I seeked in a university.”
Luckily for Justine, she will be able to thrive in this exciting and stimulating lifestyle after receiving her acceptance. “I was honestly so in shock,” Justine recalls. “I really didn’t believe it and even now, it still hasn’t really hit. The UPenn decisions were one of the earliest schools to come out, and I remember I had told myself I wasn’t going to wake up at 4 AM when it would be released. But because I was so anxious, I ended up staying awake anyway and I felt so relieved after seeing that I had gotten in.”
Obviously, getting into your top college can evoke feelings of extreme happiness and satisfaction that all your hard work paid off. There is that sense of relief knowing that after December 15th, you were set; you knew where you were going and you loved where you were going. But what if you opened your letter and didn’t know if you got in? For Alan, he opened his letter to see a deferral from Boston University. A deferral essentially means that you would be considered again during the Regular Decision round, meaning having to wait until April. “I didn’t expect to get in,” Alan states. “I was bummed out but not completely destroyed because I know I still have a chance of getting in.”
And the worst: getting rejected.
“I was really upset because even though I didn’t think I got in, I still had a little bit of a chance, especially by choosing to ED,” Kathryn says. “It was just really sad because I put in a lot of hard work, visited the campus, and did an interview so seeing I got denied made me feel really defeated.”
With December 15th well behind us, the second semester now welcomes in the new season of acceptances and denialsecond-semesteremester senior (SSS) mindset is a universal concept, and is very real around the halls of SAS. So how do Early Decision results impact seniors? Although Kathryn was denied, she is still embracing parts of the SSS lifestyle since she had chosen to Early Action to four other schools. “I’m still working hard, but now there’s not too much stress since I did everything I could. Additionally, I’ve already heard back from schools, so now I’m just waiting for University of Virginia, University of Southern California, and University of San Diego.” Alan describes the feeling as “this semester being like a jog compared to past years which felt like a sprint.”
He has already been accepted into University of British Columbia, and is currently waiting to hear about from Simon Fraser University, University of San Francisco, Loyola Marymount University, York University, and University of Toronto. As for Justine, she believes there will be no negative academic repercussions even after getting into her ED school. “For me, I definitely still want to maintain my current standard, but I don’t feel the pressure anymore where I need to study 7 million hours just for one test. Second semester is for embracing time with friends in Singapore, so I feel like I’m focusing on that now rather than just grades.”
To everyone who was accepted, deferred, or denied from their Early Decision schools, just remember to not stress (or slack off) this semester and just enjoy the few months you have here on this island. Good luck to everyone during the Regular Decision round!