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### Comparing Early and Regular College Applications: How Seniors Make Their Decision

While seniors face the decision of choosing between early decision, early action, or regular applications before submitting a college application, they retain the flexibility to alter their application type until the deadline.

In mid-December, high school seniors eagerly anticipated the outcomes of their early decision (ED) and early action (EA) applications. Following this, online articles emerged comparing acceptance rate statistics to prior years and speculating on trends. A recent article on [publication name] scrutinized the statistics of various colleges.

So, what sets ED and EA apart from regular decision (RD) applications?

An ED application enables students to apply early to a university. If accepted, the student is obligated to enroll in that university. Conversely, EA permits early application without binding the student. Even upon acceptance to a specific university, attendance is not mandatory. RD adheres to the standard timeline, with decisions announced later in the admission cycle.

School counselor Erica LeBright emphasizes the binding nature of ED admissions. She highlights how students, along with their parents and counselor, sign a contract stipulating that acceptance requires attendance. Ms. LeBright shared, “So that’s really important, since I’ve had students get in early decision, realize they couldn’t afford it, and backed out of the agreement, which was not looked upon favorably by the school.”

Therefore, the process of applying for an ED application can be anxiety-inducing.

Senior Georgia Levine initially had no plans to apply for ED anywhere. However, during college visits, she discovered a school in Chicago that captured her heart. “I really fell in love with the school,” she expressed.

Levine elaborated on what prompted her to choose one university for an ED application. She explained, “When I was there, the thing that was different was I could really see myself as a student there, in a way that I hadn’t been able to before. And so I think that was the most important factor for me was like, ‘Can I see myself living here for the next four years?’”

Senior Vismaya Gangadharan concurs that academics alone do not dictate her college selection. The overall experience and social environment hold equal significance. If a college fulfills these criteria, applying early is deemed worthwhile.

Gangadharan remarked, “I feel like a lot of people are kind of deterred from applying…early decision. But at the same time, I feel like, if you have a school that’s really your top choice, and it’s a place that you really would like to go to, then it’s like kind of a missed opportunity to not apply that way. Because you never know unless you try.”

However, Gangadharan believes that unless it’s a dream school, regular decisions might be preferable over early decisions. “A lot of the time, even when you apply early decision, if you get in and you go, you might realize that it’s actually not the best fit for you,” she noted.

Despite the complexity of the ED/EA/RD system, additional components like restrictive early action (REA) and early decision 2 (ED2) further contribute to the intricacies.

Ms. LeBright elaborated on REA, a non-binding option that restricts students to applying to only one private school in the early round. If accepted, students can still apply to other schools RD to explore their options.

Regarding ED2 rounds, the deadline extends to January, unlike the November deadline for early decision 1 round. Each school establishes varying application deadlines for the same application type. Ms. LeBright emphasized, “It’s hard because every school is different. And you can’t generalize…even within the Ivy Leagues and within these top tier schools, they all have their own decision.”

Ms. LeBright empathized with the stress students endure during the college application process. She emphasized the importance of time management and advised seniors to balance schoolwork and college applications effectively.

Levine emphasized the significance of applying for EA early to alleviate the workload. She recommended, “Take the opportunity. Get all your [applications] out of the way early, ‘cause there’s so much other work to be doing. It will help you so much more in the long run.”

While college applications may induce stress, Levine reassured that acceptances or rejections do not define one’s future. “I think that everyone ends up where they’re meant to be,” she concluded.

Numerous online resources offer guidance on the various application types, their advantages, and disadvantages. For instance, [publication name] published a comprehensive guide on the different application types in 2023.

Ms. LeBright acknowledged that the entire process may seem overwhelming and advised students to take it step by step, seeking support from counselors, coordinators, teachers, parents, and friends who have navigated the process before.