Worth the Rush? The Race to Early Acceptance at Elite Schools (Part 1: Benefits)

Have you been considering applying Early Action or Early Decision to your choice university? Consider the following scenario.

It’s December 15, and you’re on the bus with your team headed to an away game, too nervous to login to your admissions account at your choice school. The clock ticks. It’s 5:01 p.m. — surely the decision must be posted by now.

You take a deep breath, pull out the phone, login, squint at the screen, do a double take, pause. You look again and then, you start jumping, screaming, crying, and shouting, “I got in! I got in!” Your teammates swarm around and hug you. “Congrats!” they all yell. Of course, you win the game, too. Or maybe you don’t, but it doesn’t matter because not only did you get accepted early to your dream school, you can now cease and desist all further essay writing and fantasize about a chill Christmas break. Life is good.

Dreamy, isn’t it? As an admissions consultant, I will admit that I, too, share the early admissions fantasy. I will also admit that such a slam dunk is even more fantastic in reality, and I can easily recite many moments of admissions bliss.

Equally and perhaps even more satisfying, however, are the March/April triumphs: the lists of schools reported in emails of glee, the heart-to-hearts about the right choice among a plethora of right choices, the merit scholarship packages. April is definitely my favorite month. Then, in the summer, wait list decisions are made, and bliss returns. Just last August, after wooing Cornell through several update letters, a student from Chongqing interested in economics and international development wrote to tell me she had been accepted. A perfect fit! She won, too.

From a bird’s-eye view, no one win is more valuable than another. So which route is best for you?

Read Part Two: Acceptance Rates of this article to find out more details about applying Early Decision/Early Action, courtesy of Amy Morgenstern, owner of Blue Stars Admissions.