So I've been thinking for a while and I'm not sure if I should apply REA or RD. Stanford is my number one choice for sure, so of course I want to apply early. But then I read that they mostly only accept "slam dunk" or really good applicants. And you see, of course I believe I could get into Stanford, but that got me scared into thinking I would have better chances RD. Due mostly to Freshman year, my GPA is not as high as it could be. I got 3 B's each semester Freshman year, for a total of 6 B's. And 1 B a semester sophomore year, for a total of 2 B's. Junior year, which was by far my hardest courseload, I received straight A's both semesters. I believe right now my GPA is a 3.76 UW and 3.9 W. This is, of course, not bad, and Stanford doesn't care much about freshman year, I think. But I could do better. If I get straight A's next semester, which I most likely will, my weighted GPA will be bumped up to somewhere around 4.1, and my unweighted GPA will go up to around 3.8 - 3.9. Furthermore, if it is indeed more easy for "normal" applicants to get in RD, would I be better off RD? Or should I just go for REA? Would it make much of a difference? Really I just don't want to screw myself over by applying REA and getting rejected when I could apply RD and get accepted.
I'm not positive, but I don't think Stanford looks at your freshman grades. I asked an admissions officer for Sanford once and the basic idea for REA is that Stanford will accept those that are deemed qualified, defer those that would be qualified if they had a strong senior second semester, proved themselves capable of doing wat they claimed or basically only needed a small push more to qualify. Most will be rejected, unlike the ivy leagues. RD will be the same, except those that almost qualify will be waitlisted.
So all in all, both ways will get you the same result. There is no advantage to applying for either REA or RD. The only thing that most people find to be a drawback is the very likely chance of rejection, but imo it's better than waiting 4 months and getting rejected.
... The only way freshman year will affect you is your class ranking. I'd do REA if you don't want to apply EA to any other school just to get it over with, there's no point waiting 3 more months to get rejected. Knowing earlier than later will help you figure out what to do for RD.
Only apply to Stanford REA if it is truly your first choice. Doing so does limit you in many other ways. However, if it is your first choice, then go with your heart. It is actually what they recommend: use the EA option if Stanford is your first choice.
Apply REA if it's your top choice. It takes almost all of the stress out of senior year to get accepted early. I didn't even apply to any other colleges! It also shows Stanford that Stanford's your first choice. Also, the acceptance rate for EA is higher than RD.
Really it's good all around. I believe you can also apply to state schools EA with Stanford REA but I'm not positive.
If it really is your first choce than apply REA if not then apply RD but the thing is all you do is show your interest either way if Stanford considers you to be a good applicant they'll accept you no matter when you apply