The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

Senior Sentiments #2: To ED or not to ED?

Picking one school and risking everything. It sounds like a dream to some people: one and done in the college admissions process. To others, it’s entirely unfair and feels wrong. 


On the outside, Early Decision markets itself as a helpful way for applicants to demonstrate to colleges that they are undoubtedly the applicant’s number one choice. And for some kids, that is completely true. But for a majority of 17-18 year olds, it’s extremely difficult to decide where you want to spend the next four years of your life. Especially by November 1 of your senior year. Of course undecided kids have the option to not ED. But they’re putting themselves at a natural disadvantage. They have the opportunity to greatly increase their admissions chances to a competitive school, and they are not taking it. So what’s a senior to do?


Amber’s take:

With some institutions filling 50% of their incoming class with ED applicants, ED provides a significant advantage to students who apply. What does that leave students who don’t want to make a legal commitment because they aren’t sure of the best school for them? – an extremely low acceptance rate for regular decision applicants and a much higher rate of rejection. 


The inherent advantage of ED makes it hard to refuse the opportunity, but the purpose of ED is for students to show interest in their dream school, not to apply just to land at the highest ranked institution. For those who don’t have a number one choice or don’t want to make a commitment, the pressure of ED isn’t fair.


For institutions, ED admissions are guaranteed money since the students are bound to the decision. And for some students it works: they can live with their commitment and be at peace with the result. For others, the what-ifs loom large and create doubt and regret. 


Asking 17-18 year old kids to stake their future on a decision isn’t right. What happened to having options – getting to choose where you want to enroll in college? 


I didn’t ED anywhere… I couldn’t. I didn’t find a school that offered ED that I loved – and trust me, I looked for one. I found an REA school that I loved and applied, though I don’t get an advantage applying early. 


I always looked forward to the college admissions process knowing that for the first time I would get to choose my future. I couldn’t take that choice away by EDing somewhere I wasn’t sure about. 


Looking back, of course I have second thoughts. I wonder if I missed my shot to raise my chances at getting into a better school. But I also know that if I ED’ed and ended up somewhere I didn’t love, I wouldn’t be happy. Making the decision was hard because everyone I talk to says it would be stupid not to ED because I’d give up such an advantage. I look at others around me and wonder if they played the game of college admissions better than I did. 


Isabel’s take:

So what do you do? You take the opportunity. You waive a piece of your freedom in exchange for a higher likelihood of admissions to a specific school. Yes, you get to choose where you ED, but that’s about it. Unfortunately, not all students can choose where to ED based on their top choice. Some choose to ED to a school they know they’ll be admitted to. Better to raise chances at a slightly less prestigious institution than at a more prestigious one a student is almost positive they won’t get into, ED or not.


Additionally, ED is another privilege that wealthy students have over low income students. Many low income students can’t ED because they can’t commit to attending one school without knowing what financial aid or scholarships they will receive.


So how do we fix this? Short answer: we don’t. The longer answer is a bit more complicated. My intention isn’t  to petition the universities of America to end ED. It’s to empathize with those struggling. 


What do we do if we don’t get into our ED school? We spend the six weeks between November 1 and December 15 daydreaming and stressing and hoping and shaking that we get into our choice. It’s such a bold thing to declare your number one choice. It’s like when you ask a girl out and get rejected. “Whatever bro, I didn’t even like her that much anyway.” We can’t say that when we submit an application two months early and contractually obligate ourselves to attend the school if we get in. Getting denied from an ED is so much more embarrassing and painful than being denied RD. We put ourselves out there, bought a bouquet of roses, only to watch them get stomped on and laughed at. Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme, and I have faith that college admissions officers are respectful and appreciative of applicants demonstrating that level of interest, but still – you get my point.


Luckily for me, I have a clear school that I’ve wanted to attend since the 7th grade. I’m excited to take the opportunity to show the school that they are truly my number one choice. But at the same time, I feel a twinge of doubt. What would it be like to go to my number two or number three school? What would it be like to have time to weigh my options and follow my instinct? I made the decision now, despite the fact that my desires could change in the future.


But if I don’t ED, I probably will not get into any of my three top choices. I made the decision, and I don’t regret it. But what about people who do? I used to have a close friend who ED’ed to a school, got in, and absolutely hated it. So she transferred after her first semester. Then transferred again after her second. This is the fear that paralyzes me. What if the place we decided we wanted to go when we were 17 and seniors in high school is not the place we’re meant to be when we’re 19 and a freshman in college. 


I feel like everyone is looking at me to get into my ED school. Sure, I suffer from the fishbowl effect, and in reality everyone only cares about themselves. But every time I bring up the school I applied to around my friends, I’m hit with a chorus of “You’ll get in.” Certainly supportive, but makes me feel even more anxious. The odds are on my side for acceptance, so isn’t it even more of a failure if I’m rejected?



At the end of the day, it’s clear that the student body has differing views on ED. There are probably some who don’t care enough to have these debates. We’ll acknowledge that this article is written by two high-stress, overly competitive students – but isn’t that the way the college admissions process has swayed? 


You can’t blame yourself for any decisions you make when submitting applications to various rounds of admissions. Just be at peace with your decision, and focus on moving forward, no matter the result. Finally, remember that college admissions do not determine your self worth. 

About the Contributors
Amber Bansal
Amber Bansal, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Amber Bansal is a senior and this year's Co-Editor-In-Chief. Amber loves all things Bollywood and is drawn to study politics in the future and wishes to travel the world. She hopes to create a productive environment and use her four years of Bugle experience to help others especially if you bribe her with chocolate.
Isabel Bassin
Isabel Bassin, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Senior Isabel Bassin is a four-year staffer and a Co-Editor-In-Chief, as well as a captain of the varsity girl's lacrosse team. When not writing or playing lacrosse, she spends her free time with her geriatric dog, Charlie. She doesn't know what the future holds for her, but she is excited at the idea of the many places life and journalism may take her.