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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 12/11/2010

Colleges start revealing early admissions decisions

By Valerie Strauss

High school seniors around the nation who applied to early-decision programs at colleges and universities are starting to learn their fate ahead of the traditional Dec. 15 “reveal” date.

Anxious high school seniors who applied to schools such as Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis now know whether their college hunt is over or whether they have to move on to Plan B, which, in many cases, is a frantic rush to fill out more applications before the Jan. 1 deadline.

Many kids are glued to their e-mail accounts to check for "the letter." By Saturday morning, Facebook already had a Boston University Class of 2015 with 153 members.

Early-decision programs allow students to learn their fate in December rather than the usual March/April dates, but once an applicant accepts such an offer, he or she is bound by it. Early-action programs are similar except that they are not binding.

A number of schools reported a big rise in early-admissions applications this year. Many of those who apply early do so because they believe it offers them a better statistical chance of getting accepted.

Northwestern University saw a 26 percent increase in early-admissions applications this year. The jump was 38 percent at the University of Richmond and nearly 20 percent at George Washington University.

Early-decision programs have been criticized as favoring families with resources. Once a student is bound to a school, he or she can’t accept financial aid offers from other schools. The kids with the means to submit their applications early also generally attend high schools and have parents who make sure that they have already visited colleges, taken their admissions tests, obtained recommendations and written solid essays.


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By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2010; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, early admissions, early decision  
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In spite of the increase in early decision applications, I still do not suggest this options to many of the students I work with. I feel that too many are not ready to make their final college decision in December. Not knowing their financial aid and scholarship options from other schools, also puts them at a disadvantage. Early decision seems to be a win situation for colleges, but not as much for students.

Susie Watts
Denver, Colorado

Posted by: collegedirection | December 12, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I am not shocked to have heard that early decision applications have increased. Having applied for college only a few short years back ('05)I can remember how anxious I was to hear back. Looking back now, I realize that I dont think high school students are ready to be locked into a four year decision in December. As I remember it back in high school, I had life changing decisions on a daily basis, let alone locking in a decision that would affect the next four years. I dont necessarily feel that it gives others a disadvantage, because I do think colleges leave plenty of room open for those last minute appliers (who they really want or will simply make room for them). But again if you are an early bird, planner, like to know everything is handled and the school of your dreams is waiting for you, then early application/decision maybe is the road some should travel, but they just need to cross their fingers they made the right decision for the next four or more years.

UofM Twin Cities

Posted by: castr046 | December 13, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I guess maybe some students who are really together and planning ahead could make use of this. And others will wait... I wonder if it really does increase chances of those early apps getting in over others?

Posted by: carl1369 | December 14, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

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