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ED to Smith Despite Needing Financial Aid? - International Student

Nellz157Nellz157 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited October 2013 in Smith College
Hello! I am an international female student in my second year of A Levels (which is the equivalent of senior year at US high schools). I have been researching Smith College extensively for a couple of months now, and will be applying there this year,

However, I'm conflicted about whether to apply Early Decision or Regular Decision. As far as my qualifications are concerned, I think I'm objectively a strong candidate (maybe not mind-blowing, but strong), given my academic record and participation in ECAs (my decision to potentially ED to Smith has been met with surprise by most of peers who expect me to pick 'better' colleges like Yale or Princeton - though I'm a huge proponent for looking past US News rankings to find a better fit, whether that's a great LAC or a top-notch research university).

Everything about Smith makes it the perfect 'fit' for me - the small class size, the focus on breeding independent female innovators and leaders, the charm of Northampton as a college town, the strong relationships formed with housemates and professors alike, research opportunities, and I could go on - but the one thing that worries me is the amount of aid I need; my EFC may only come up to about $10-15 K per year.

Do you think I should still apply to Smith Early Decision despite the financial aid problem since it's my dream school, or would it be better to apply regular decision to compare aid packages from other schools? Would I stand a better shot of getting aid (possibly even STRIDE or Zollman scholarships) through ED, or it doesn't make a difference?
Post edited by Nellz157 on

Replies to: ED to Smith Despite Needing Financial Aid? - International Student

  • pmyenpmyen Registered User Posts: 539 Member
    Seems like you did a lot of research on U.S. schools. You also seem to know what you want from college and know yourself well enough to determine what might be a good fit. All of these show maturity and ensure a better chance of finding a school where you can maximize your development and potential.

    In general, applying ED reduces your chance to get maximal financial aid since you cannot compare offers or show awards to the school of your choice if others are offering more. However, the scholarships you are looking at are merit-based. I suggest you address your questions directly to the Admissions Office and let them know your strong interest in their school and whether applying ED in any way jeopardizes your chances to be considered for these merit scholarships. Note that you may have to be willing to bear the uncertainty of hearing about such a scholarship award until April after they consider ED and RD accepted candidates. Still, it would not hurt to discuss with the Admissions Office, ideally in person. If that is not possible, you may want to consider Skyping in addition to writing a note expressing your interest in Smith. My daughter spent a lot of time researching schools and after spending a summer taking a writing course at Bryn Mawr, she was convinced that she wanted to apply to a woman's college. She spent her Spring break during her junior year living at a B&B in Amherst and sitting in classes at Mount Holyoke and Smith. She eventually applied ED to Smith. She had a great experience at Smith and was well prepared for graduate school.
  • uniquelyuniquely Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    I'm a current student at Smith right now, and I applied to all my colleges RD. For RD, I definitely felt there was an advantage in comparing different financial aid offers from different schools. Also, there is a definite advantage in applying RD in regards to merit scholarships. From what I've heard, merit scholarships are definitely more frequently given out to RD students to woo them. That's what happened to me for a number of schools that I applied to. As for Smith, the Smithies I know that are Stride/Zollman all applied RD.
  • Guitar500Guitar500 Registered User Posts: 300 Member
    Awesome to see that you're picking Smith for ED! It's a fantastic school, I have no complaints so far. I'm loving every minute of it.

    Ok, so I'm a current international student and I applied EDII. I'm on financial aid (my EFC < 10k), so I can understand why you're so worried. So applying ED doesn't put you in danger of receiving less FA from the school because Smith's full-need. However, FA packages will vary even between fullneed schools, so it's said that if you need FA you shouldn't apply ED because you won't be able to compare between those packages. If you think your FA would vary a lot between schools, you should apply RD. In my case, we decided that if we could afford Smith without significant sacrifices, I'd go there, but I still applied to other schools RD just in case. In the end, my FA was very good, so I enrolled, but it's not guaranteed that your FA will be enough.

    As for merit aid, I haven't met any internationals who got a STRIDE, all the people on STRIDE I've met are American, and they all applied RD. Usually, Smith awards students STRIDEs when admissions thinks those students will likely get into competing schools such as Williams, so STRIDE is a way of making them pick Smith over all the other schools. International students don't usually have much of a choice, though, since admissions is extremely competitive when they need financial aid. And thus, internationals rarely ever get STRIDEs. I'm pretty a sure poster here was from France and got a STRIDE, but that was over 5 years ago and she might not have been on aid.
  • Nellz157Nellz157 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I'm so glad I have so many opinions to help me with this decision; College Confidential is a true gem!

    @pmyen: Thank you for your suggestion about calling the Admissions Office, I did just that. The Admissions Counselor I was directed to was very helpful: she told me how I stand an equal shot at getting need-based aid from Smith regardless of whether I applied ED or RD. She also told me that those accepted in ED or ED II are later evaluated for the merit scholarships as well, which they ONLY give out around the time RD applications are due, but that they are extremely competitive.

    @Guitar500: Thank you for your advice as well! I can't tell you how grateful I am to personally find an international applicant who decided to ED to Smith as well. A current junior year Smithie friend of mine, who graduated from my high school and is currently on substantial aid, also told me that I shouldn't keep my hopes up for any merit aid since it's THAT competitive for us international applicants (she applied RD as well, but Smith wasn't her first choice the way it is for me - though now she says she can't imagine being happier anywhere else).

    So if I stand an equal shot at need-based aid either way, I figure I might as well apply ED to Smith then. If they don't meet my need, which would have happened regardless of whether I applied now or in Jan, then I would have to pick myself up, move on and apply to the other colleges on my list through RD. But if they do meet my need and Smith is affordable, then there would be an invaluable educational experience waiting for me before the year is even over.

    I believe I have my answer now. Thank you all so much!
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