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My Experience on Applying Early Decision to College

Student Life

April 18, 2023

College Admissions - these two words can mark one of the most daunting processes in a high schooler's life. We, as teens, have a giant suitcase of expectations lying on our shoulders, including graduating from a top-tier school. Applying to US universities is indeed a tough job!

Whether I should apply early or not? Are my extracurriculars enough? How should I stand out?

And what if I didn't get in? Will the world come to an end? No, for sure!

These are the questions most of us have been through. In this article, let's look at my regrets and experience applying as an early-decision applicant to college so you don't make the same mistakes!

Overview of the Process

For those who are unaware, people applying to US universities have two chances to get in: first in the early decision and another in the regular one.

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What is the Regular Decision Process?

It may be deemed a round that allows you to apply to as many universities as you wish (and are capable of completing their supplementary essays). The deadline usually varies for each school. For some, it is the beginning of January, and some schools even accept applications till the end of February.

This is a chance for all the applicants who either got rejected from their early round school or still need to apply. The number of applicants applying is more significant, implying less chance of acceptance. For most Ivy League people, the acceptance ranges from 3-6% (it may vary), which means hardly 1 out of 100 students get the golden ticket.

About the Early Decision Process

The early decision round is due in your senior year's first week of November, all while being stressed under the workload of taking the most rigorous classes, doing as many stand-out extracurriculars, getting recognized for international awards and, most valuable of all, writing a remarkable personal statement or essay. So, is it worth the outcome? It would be for exceptionally few, and for most of us, it isn't. The early decision round has comparatively fewer applications, but the acceptance rate is even more brutal.

(via Giphy)

My Experience

Personally, I was slightly disadvantaged by applying early. Coming from a school that needed a college counselor and had little knowledge about applying to universities abroad, I managed things independently. The pressure was immense and deteriorated the quality of my application.

Researching universities and writing tons of essays (including supplementary ones) without any external help might be the reason for my rejection. I was understandably distraught that, with top high school rank and some awe-inspiring extracurricular activities, I was denied entry. After all, who knows? I craved a reward to justify all my sacrifices to get here, yet sometimes things don't work out how we want (maybe it gets better).

Even after a back-breaking effort, seeing a rejection feels like all your dreams have been shattered. I had romanticized my next four years at that university, which immediately left my league. At that moment, I felt like giving up.

But I knew if the universe had put a dream into my heart, it had every intention for me to make it happen. Keeping myself strong, I applied again to the universities in January. The decisions are still pending, but I am confident about getting in!

My Advice To You!

  • If you are in the same boat as me, try applying straight in the regular round. This will not only help you to have more time for crafting your application but will even help you to understand things better and do the touch-ups.

  • If you want to test your luck, apply to a university with a greater acceptance rate during the Early Action round. This would boost your confidence and motivate you to do better. And even if you didn't do well in the regular round, you still have a backup ready.

  • This advice might be cliche, but it is one of the most important! Never do any of your extracurricular activities just to fill in those 10 blanks. Do things that genuinely make you indulge in it more rather than doing anything that would look much more impressive. Remember admission officers have an eye for that.

If you applied early and didn't get in, you still have plan B. Always remember that getting into a college is just the first stepping stone in this long journey. Whether you get into a top-tier college or graduate from your state school, keep in mind that you are much more than a college degree.

College acceptance or rejection can never determine what you are meant to be. It can never deny your work ethic, compassion, and creativity, and it is in no way an accurate indicator of your potential.

Keeping a positive attitude throughout can help you get through it! After all, there is always sunshine to the midnight rain. If not this, you should be proud of the grown-up individual you have eventually and unintentionally become.

Anyways, all the best to everyone applying. Rooting for you!

(via Giphy)

If you have any such stories, do let us know in the comments below. Waiting to hear from you!

Kanishka Tandon
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Writer since May, 2022 · 4 published articles

Hi! Kanishka is a driven and creative individual. She relishes working with a diversity of individuals and being a strong-willed human keeps her motivated toward a task:)