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Early Action / Early Decision strategy?

121IllinoisDad121IllinoisDad 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
Hello all,

I posted a few days ago asking about my son's 34 ACT. I figured this is a different topic so I decided to post under a new subject. I'm certain this has been written about in the past so feel free to point me to an article or previous forum if that is easiest.

Several questions about Early Action & Early Decision in terms of strategy:
1) Since Early Decision is binding and Early Action is not, are we able to apply to both at the same time? IE a single ED school (top choice) while also applying multiple EA schools (backups)? I would assume this is acceptable since acceptance of ED would just invalidate the EAs while a rejection or waitlist on ED would allow the EAs to come into play.
2) I assume in terms of application process, EAs would be among your top choices and if you don't get into these, then you would add you would start adding Safeties into the regular admission deadline? In other words, is EA intended for your top choice schools? Or is it just for kids/parents who want to get the process out of way?
3) Are there downsides to applying ED and/or EA? I've heard applying ED puts you in a less favorable negotiating position for aid. I don't know if that matters for us as my wife and I are dual income and at an earnings point where need-based aid is highly unlikely. If my son applies ED, would we also be putting ourselves at a disadvantage for merit-based aid?

This is for my oldest son so I'm coming into this pretty naive. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Brian
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Replies to: Early Action / Early Decision strategy?

  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Not all schools have EA. It’s great to have a few if you can. Our S19 only found one he wanted to apply to. We didn’t do ED anywhere. And, yes, you can ED to one school and then EA to others. If you get in ED, then you have to pull all other apps and decline any outstanding EA offers.

    And there’s no negotiating for aid in ED. You’re committing when you apply. You can run net price calculators on schools’ websites to get an idea of what the school will expect you to pay. ED can be a big boost depending on the school. EA not so much.
    edited June 2019
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    1. It depends ; ). Some schools have restrictions. For example, some will allow students to ED and EA, but only EA to their state publics. Some schools have binding ED, others do not. You need to check the individual admissions websites for the schools on your list.

    2. EA has many benefits, even if it isn't a first choice school. Some schools have rolling admission where you would have an acceptance in hand very early (emotionally supper beneficial). Others will only consider merit awards and honors college for students who apply EA.

    3. I don't see any downsides with applying EA other than a student needs to be on top of getting the applications in early and being sure LORs and test scores arrive in time. For ED, it takes away your ability to compare offers, especially if you are chasing merit.


    As an aside, I would not wait to complete applications until hearing from ED. You can certainly wait to submit/pay but I'd encourage my student to have all the supplemental essays written and be ready to go. Otherwise it can be a super painful and stressful winter break.



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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @momofsenior1 which schools have non-binding ED? That's not a thing.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @121IllinoisDad Does your son have a list yet?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    @homerdog - That's not what I meant so thanks for clarifying! I meant that not all schools even offer ED. Good catch!
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @121IllinoisDad Ok. Checked your other thread. Sounds like your S is exclusively interested in big state schools (although I do agree with posters over there that an mid-sized elite is still quite big enough). I think he needs to forget about his friends' influence and get his feet on some campuses. I am also an NU alum as is my husband. It was too big for S19. If he wanted to go there, he would have applied ED. Legacy only counts for ED there. NU is VERY different than Illinois. Has he visited both? Talked to students? Sat in on classes?

    As for EA and ED with the Big Ten schools, many of them have rolling admissions which means that your S sends his application in as soon as it's ready and he will hear back within a certain time period, usually less than two months and sometimes as quickly as a week (Iowa). So, if he's interested in Big Ten, he could have some answers pretty quickly early on. ED is serious business so, in my opinion, an overnight at the school is very important. There's no backing out, especially for a full pay family. I think it's only NU in the Big Ten that offers ED.
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  • 121IllinoisDad121IllinoisDad 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @ Homerdog. We're doing quite a few visits this summer so I expect his list to change. On paper he has the grades and scores to apply to some elite programs but for whatever reason, he prefers larger D1 schools. Only exception is Northwestern (my alma mater and kind of obligatory for that reason) but he is really gun shy about smaller privates. He is on the varsity soccer team which has allowed him to expand out of his booksmart friend group and I know he enjoys having friends who don't constantly stress about their GPA. He is STEM with a 4.5 & 34 ACT so we'll be applying to D1 schools with respected engineering programs. We're also Illinois residents so almost certain UIUC will be high on the list along with a handful of B1G schools (Purdue, UW & Mich) and probably a couple OOS with good reputations (Georgia Tech & UCLA are on the list to visit since they fall into the big school/good academics profile). Cal Poly is kind of an intriguing one because it has a good reputation, is near my retired parents (more reason to visit) and is surprisingly affordable for OOS. All of the ones mentioned above either already have been visited or will be. Based on feedback from others, I'm sure we'll add a few Safeties too.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @121IllinoisDad Being sporty and smart are not mutually exclusive things. Lots of kids are both. Our S19 was seeking kids like that and found them in spades at some elite LACs. I'm sure they exist at all types of schools.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois and Georgia Tech all have EA and not ED. I would definitely have your son use that deadline and not wait until RD. I think EA deadlines are almost always 11/1 but you’ll want to check.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    If your S likes Purdue and Michigan and you don't mind the distance, UMD has a similar vibe and great engineering. My D even saw some merit $ there which brought the OOS COA under Purdue's. Feel free to IM if you have any Purdue engineering specific questions. My D is in honors college there and is going to start her second year soon.
    edited June 2019
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    We have neighbors who sent both kids to Purdue for engineering. Super bright kids and they had amazing experiences and got great internships and jobs.
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  • 121IllinoisDad121IllinoisDad 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @homerdog I've said the same to my son repeatedly. I had a great experience at NU in my time and never felt it was small or filled with academic introverts My son's experience is colored by his HS experience where he can jump in and out of the more academically minded kids and have a bit of a break from the stress and competition. He thinks he can replicate that at a larger state school whereas at a Northwestern, he's afraid he would be stuck in a constant rat race. If you met him, you wouldn't think was a 4.5/34 ACT kid and most of his friends are surprised when they see his GPA. He's just a happy go lucky kid and for better or worse, I know where he spends his Friday nights (its not the library). So the social aspect of college is more important to him than it probably should be. He's such a good kid otherwise that we're just trying to ride the wave with him. His two younger siblings will be much more small private college types.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @121IllinoisDad well, NU is not the NU that you and I went to and it is more cut throat and intense these days. That’s another reason it didn’t appeal to S19. Other mid sized universities have more collaborative environments. As for big state schools, I bet your S would love Michigan. Be sure to show interest. Take a look at your school’s Naviance if you have it and see what the story is. For our high school, it seems to be split 50/50 between waitlist and acceptance for super high stat kids. Not a slam dunk but a good chance. If your school has a history of kids taking Michigan’s offers, I think your S has an even better chance.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5511 replies93 threads Senior Member
    Pitt engineering might be a nice rolling admission option to have---probably a highly likely for your S, he will get merit, maybe honors college. Acceptance could be in hand by end of September. If he likes that school (or another rolling admission school like Alabama), having an attractive early acceptance could decrease the number of EA apps he would have to do. Lastly, agreed on UIUC, apply as soon as the app is up.
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  • Nicki20Nicki20 444 replies5 threads Member
    @121IllinoisDad Is your son done with soccer after high school?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30469 replies59 threads Senior Member
    @momofsenior1 , answeredquestions well. A few things I want to add

    1 Early programs constantly change, so it is critical to read what the current rules are. If in doubt, call the AO. Just as examples, UVA and BC are now adding ED to their choices now. There was a time when one could apply EA to BC and ED to another school, but then they changed to what is called Single Choice Early Action (SCEA). HPYSM all have this. They do not have ED, but their EA program does not allow a student to apply ED if they apply EA to their school. Nor do they allow other EA schools with some exceptions. They want to be the one and only EA application that the student sends out, hence the SCEA designation. The exceptions are usually state schools . Or any school with rolling polices orEA2. Yeah, I never saw anything called EA1 so never thought that there was an EA2, but there is. There are other Conditions and it can vary .l. There is also ED1 and ED2.

    Most of the time, if accepted ED, it's game over, and unless financial aid is involved with an inadequate package to make it possible, the students are not supposed to apply to other schools, and are supposed to withdraw applications to any other schools that may be outstanding, including any acceptances. A contract stipulating these terms, often signed by parent, school GC as well as student is usually part of the ED application.

    Bottom line, you have to read the stipulations of each schools Admissions programs and make sure that you are operating under current rules.

    2 EA is not just to get an early advantage, but also there are scholarships at some schools that require EA applications as @momofsenior1 explained. Also, for many state schools, if you don't get your application in early, seats fill up in certain majors and you can get shut out. Also getting accepted to some of these schools is systematically more difficult over time as there are fewer seats. So it is not to your advantage to apply late to certain schools even those with generously late deadlines. Penn State, for example, says that 3 numbers pretty much determine acceptance; test score, class rank and date of your application. That is a reason why SCEA schools give exception to rolling applications altogether and EA at state schools. It's a deadly loss to lose or compromise your state school choice on what may be a pipe dream SCEA app to top school.

    One of my kids applied to Georgetown, BC, State school, St Bonaventure. Got into ST B with pretty much full cost paid State school, no money but low cost. BC accepted with no money offered and its big price tag. Deferred at Georgetown. This gave him an excellent overview of where he stood in the application process, and he could cull certain schools from his list for RD

    So when he did his RD applications, it was for some lottery ticket schools, and for personal preferences for some things that were not covered by his acceptances. It made for a low stress app process,and a relaxing holiday season with his bases already covered.

    IMO, it's not a good idea just to apply to your lottery ticket ED school early, because it is really demoralizing and stressful to be sitting there with a deferral or even outright rejection in hand when peers are dancing around with acceptances. Not a good way to enter the RD round and the winter vacation. Now, the safety school becomes imperative. Confidence is eroded. It's hard to be up when you've been turned down by your first choice school.

    So you pair that ED school with that State school app and maybe a few EA schools that you know will accept you. Maybe some midrange schools too, some schools with money. The EA process can be a litmus test, a barometer as to what the student's acceptance range is, and what moneys are possible. s. It can also be a wake up call. But you can mitigate that by making sure you have some sure things in the mix. Then you can apply to any school you want with impunity. You have your safety schools in place.

    3 Yes, there are disadvantages to applying early. Even EA. A kid whose course rigor, and grades are on an upward swing and now is showing some real promise in putting that nose to the grind stone won't get the advantage of that first semester gpa senior year. One of mine was in that situation. Not a great freshman year--needed to get into gear. Also did not qualify for some of the more advanced courses. Did much better sophomore year, but still not in the most advanced courses but grades got him into AP and honors for junior year where he really excelled. A strong senior semester in tough courses could be a gamechanger in admissions for someone with that profile.

    Also the kid who needs to retake some tests. Or take them. Maybe the SAT is not good, but it's discovered the ACT appears to be more his bag, Something happens and can't take a scheduled test. These things happen. You might need to squeeze in another test score senior year first semester to bolster the application.

    You also have to get those apps out early which might be an issue for some kids and schools. There are those deadlines that have to be met. You can't rush a snail and it's ultimately the kid who has to get those applications done and out.

    For financial aid, I think ED is an advantage. Usually, schools are more generous in FA with ED. The FA coffers are still full; they aren't scraping for the last bits early in the season. Fewer FA kids apply ED. Schools really do not want ED kids to have to renege. A major reason for ED is to increase yield. Word gets out and if it looks like ED is just for the well to do (and these rumors are still out there) and if too many people are not happy with ED packages that they have to turn down and do get better with RD schools, it's a bad thing. So if your ED financial aid package is not doable, you can have a more relaxed conversation with Admissions and FA. You still have the rest of the application season ahead of you and the school isn't in crunch mode like they will be in April when the bulk of their packages are out and so many people want to discuss, negotiate, complain about the financial aid. Some schools out and out say that they will meet full demonstrated need during ED though they do not guarantee that during RD.

    You do lose out in Merit. That is a major consideration if that is what you have to have or want. Merit money is usually given by Admissions to get the yield up and get those kids that they want the most. Colleges are businesses and it is not good business practice to throw unnecessary money somewhere. When you apply ED, you are a done deal. Why do they need to offer you merit money? Often scholarships are offered in the spring anyways, so you have to wait till then to find out if you get anything. I've rarely seen merit for ED. Only read about on this board, in fact. Don't personally know one single case of anyone getting merit money ED. I suppose there are scholarships that truly include everyone because they are set up that way, and so ED kids are included for consideration and they are to be awarded to the very best students at the school, but those are rare. I would not count on anything other than automatic merit by test/gpa scores for ED.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    My D didn't keep NU on her list either after our visit. Totally sucks as we now live a block from campus although we didn't know that at the time of the visit.. She didn't like the intense vibe from the students, and more importantly didn't like the quarter system for engineering and how that would impact internship/co-op timing.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8392 replies119 threads Senior Member
    I don’t agree that you always lose out on merit for ED. Most elite universities (like a Vanderbilt) or LACs (like Davidson) consider kids from ED for their merit scholarships. Also, it makes the most sense to answer the OP with schools specific to his case. His son will still get merit at a Purdue or other Big Ten schools that offer it it his son puts in an EA app. This family is full pay so all of the comments about financial aid here should only speak to merit aid. Wisconsin and Michigan give no merit so that wouldn’t be expected by @121IllinoisDad. It sounds like his S won’t really be considering any ED schools unless he changes his mind over the summer. All schools he’s interested in right now do not have ED.

    I understand the reasoning that ED candidates won’t get merit. The college doesn’t have to woo them with money because they are already committed. But it’s not true that all schools don’t give merit to kids who apply ED. And kids who apply EA or rolling will get the merit they deserve.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10415 replies123 threads Senior Member
    Purdue has gotten stingy with merit money, especially for engineering majors. President Daniels is more about keeping the cost down for all (8th year straight with no increase). They also don't release EA decision until the third week of January so well after the ED I notification dates. (They unfortunately did away with rolling admission a few years back).

    I agree that with this kind of Big 10 list, there probably isn't much to lose with ED. I made the comment in terms of losing the ability to compare merit offers if there is a binding ED.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30469 replies59 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    I agree that EA apps do not lose out on merit and say so. I don't think that is the case with ED. As I stated, there is that possibility, and I've read about students getting ED awards but I have never seen it personally with ED kids, nor has anyone I've known. Given that ED kids tend to be the top kids, if we are to believe what selective schools say abou the ED pool, you'd think more of them would be getting merit money. I've seen some spectacular ED kids accepted, yes, and not get merit whereas hold outs get some. I also said that there are awards out there that are supposed to go to the absolute top accepted students, and if the school is doing this with integrity, which I will assume, ED kids will get equal consideration for them.

    But there are merit awards out there that are sweetners to induce acceptance from the applicants. They are specifically given out for that purpose. To woo that kid who might be going to a school bit more selective or a direct competitor school. ED kids are NOT going to get that money. There is no point in offering that to them. You lose out on those funds when you go ED

    I want to make it clear that I did not unequivocally say that you lose out on all merit when you apply ED.
    edited June 2019
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