ED advice sought

<p>Please excuse me for posting this ED question since I assume I could find some answers by searching through prior posts. Any thoughts/advice would be GREATLY APPRECIATED; this is our first time through this process!
D is primarily interested in small LAC's that fall within the so-called "top 20" list (US News); some are not insignificant reaches, some are slight reaches and some are "matches" (though since she's not an athlete, URM, etc. - I don't think she can count on the "matches" either). She has visited some of the schools, but doesn't feel that any one of them is a "perfect match." She's reluctant to apply ED both because of that and because she'd like to check out a couple of other schools (which time doesn't really permit prior to ED deadlines). On the other hand, since no school has stood out from the rest, she's thinking that she might be better off just picking one of them and applying ED since she believes (and, nothwithstanding some college website statements to the contrary, I concur) ED gives a boost to the application (a slight boost or a significant boost - but a boost nonetheless). She'd also be giving up a legacy boost at one of the schools if she didn't apply ED. Again, that school doesn't stand out to her as THE school of choice, but she could see herself being just as happy there as at any of the other schools. She's seeking my advice and I'm kind of at a loss. On the one hand, I don't think it makes sense to apply ED unless you're certain that's the school you want; on the other hand, I can't see her being in any better position to make the decision in the spring and I think her odds of acceptance at most - though not all - of the schools she's looking at would increase if she applied ED. (For what it's worth, I should add that it's hard for me to follow the current trend of kids trying to find so-called dream schools and applying ED. It seems that there are too many random variables that can affect their impressions of a school, e.g., did the student happen to attend class with one of the school's stand-out professors, was the tourguide made from the same mold as the student, was the sun shining that day, etc.! The exception to this, of course, would be where the student has a very specific academic (or non-academic) interest that matches with a school. I would think, for example, that if most students who were interested in the top LAC's visited all 20, they could see themselves at most if not every single one of those schools. But, maybe I'm just missing something ......<br>
Thanks for any thoughts.</p>

<p>I think you are right on target with your analyisis. However, your daughter doesn't want to apply ED, & you have to ask yourself if you want to be responsible for pushing her to choose a school before she's ready. What if she ends up being unhappy there? Personally, I wouldn't want to be the mom of an unhappy daughter who I nudged into ED. Have a frank chat with her about her safeties. As long as she realizes that she could end up at a safety, (not that ED guarantees admission) there's no reason to go ED. It's too bad that ED has become a game instead of what it is meant to be - a way for students with a clear first choice to express that to one single school. We have 2 kids that used/is using ED, & I am a big fan of it. However, I am a fan because it lets them relax during their senior year knowing they are going to their absolute favorite college. One of my son's friends told him that "it isn't necessary to apply ED to Virginia Tech," implying that it is a match school or even a safety. My son didn't understand that attitude because it is his clear first choice & the likelihood of financial aide is nil.</p>



<p>Some kids do have a clear first choice and some do not. Some who apply EA or ED sometimes change their minds, but others do not.
There are in fact so many similarities among LACs that it is a wonder that students can come to a clear-cut decision. My older S hesitated between two LACs up to April 30 precisely because he could see himself being equally happy at either (and he would also have been happy in two others that had accepted him). The reason for his hesitation was that he had applied to LACs that were very similar in character and even more or less the same distance from our home, though in different directions.
My younger S is applying EA to one school, but he also knows that, if he is not admitted there, there are other schools on his list where he could be very happy and get an excellent education.
In your D's case, the legacy factor is significant. If the schools on her list are pretty similar and if she can be sure that she will be happy at the ED school, I would say why not apply ED?</p>

<p>I agree with Pam's post. If your reasoning was your D's assessment, too, then it might make sense. But the fact that she wants to check out some other schools means she still thinks she may "click" with one more than she has. You may be right that she'd be happy at a number of them, but if she still believes that there may be a number one, she will hold it against you if she loses that chance to choose.</p>

<p>I had one child do ED, and one not. The one who did had no hesitation; it was definitely more than the whims of a visit. We repeated the visit with an eye for looking for reasons not to go (which he didn't find), and he also read up on and liked everything he saw about the school. I prodded him frequently to make sure his decision was not wavering, and if it had at all, I would have counseled RD instead. OTOH, if he knew that he liked several equally, then I could see choosing one of them for the ED boost. But if he was still looking, I would have discouraged it.</p>

<p>I would not apply ED if I did not know what I wanted. That said, ED and a strong interest in the college expressed in the application will help at least at LACs.</p>

<p>Ed is for students who have a strong preference for a school. Even though my daughter \i{did} have a strong preference for a school, she decided not to apply ED as financial aid was a consideration.
Since much changes in the last 7 months of their senior year, I would not ever recommend that a student choose ED, especially when they have not shown to have a preference.
When you take into account setting, focus, and feel, I feel that there is a lot of difference between colleges, I would also question her self limiting decision to restrict herself to the 20 schools that US News considers "top".
Find what criteria is important, then choose the schools, don't let a magazine decide for you.</p>

<p>Let her wait. My daughter has a friend who applied & was accepted ED at a school that wasn't a "perfect match" and is now miserable & looking to transfer. Meanwhile, my daughter made her decision in late April & is extremely happy with her choice.</p>

<p>There are advantages and disadvantages to doing ED. But it is not like going ED or RD is better than the other. It really has to fit the circumstances. From what you shared about your daughter's thinking, my inclination would be to not apply ED. I realize she would be happy at several different schools (and that is exactly what is ideal!) but none are a clear first choice and she is not certain where she wants to go and is even contemplating looking at other schools. By going RD, she is not loosing out but she is winning. She is allowing herself to decide later on when she sees where her options are and so forth. Yes, she loses the "boost" in odds at the one school where she may have applied ED but that does not mean she cannot get in RD. She is still an applicant. ED, in my view, is only worth it when there is a clear first choice that a student would not second guess down the line. One of the advantages to EA (like Marite's son is doing) is that there is a little "boost" on the odds, a chance to know early on, but no definite commitment at this juncture. That would have been good for your daughter's circumstances if one of her favorite schools offered that. I think as a parent, the role is to be part of the dicussion of the pros and cons of each choice but not to sway the kid one way or the other and let the student decide which avenue is what she truly wants to do. We left all decisions of this nature to our kids though were part of discussing all the options and what was pro or con about it, when either option had good points so none were a bad thing to do. </p>

<p>As I find it helpful to read of others' experiences on here, such as the responses above and how they played out for other kids, I will share how this went in our house with two kids. First daughter, by early fall of senior year had narrowed her "first" choices to two schools tied equally in her mind at that juncture and we let her go back for second visits/overnights to see if she wanted to consider going Early at any school. By the way, she was like your daughter and liked every school on her list, perhaps some a little more than others but could be happy at any of them. Of her two faves at the time, one had EA and one had ED. She could not decide for sure on just one (like your daughter) and decided to get the "boost" of going early at the EA school, but that one did not involve a firm commitment so it seemed like the best option for someone who did not have ONE clear favorite, but rather a couple favorites. She got deferred EA at that school. She could have gone EDII to the second favorite but was not wanting to commit. She did RD everywhere. As winter came on, she said she had THREE first choices at that point, the original two and one of her others became just as much of a favorite now (as time goes on, their thinking does shift a little). As it turned out, she did not get into the EA school in April but got into the other two "first choices". Even THEN she was not sure where to go and chose three of her six acceptances to go back to the open house for admitted students in April to help her decide (again, she could see herself happy at more than one school...like your child). Ultimately she picked one of the "first choices" but it was not one of those two original first choices in Oct. but the one that moved ahead in the winter in her mind. She is now there (Brown) and says she is so happy she picked this school. I do not doubt she would be happy at the others but after so much thought along with the return visits in April, she really was able to decide. Ironically, the college she ultimately chose to attend, is the one which at the very very start of the process in Sept. of Junior year when perusing big college directories, was the school that popped out as being the most attractive to her with minimal exploration at that point. It was some process! </p>

<p>Second child is applying now. This child has had a favorite college program since like age 12, no joke. She only has wanted to go to this school. When she began the college search process, she was open to looking at other schools, but clearly she was deadset that she would apply ED to this long running favorite. By the way, this very early favorite is the only school on her list that offers ED. But she realized she should explore other schools in depth to be fair. A second college popped up that looked just about as attractive plus she has peers attending all these programs, as well as applying to the same ones, and she has discussed these at length,getting feedback from others in them, and so forth. Since we had only visited ONE school last year (the intended ED school).....she was only in tenth grade and then decided to graduate early so we were behind on visits which I thought we would do in junior year which is now senior year....so before making the decision to apply ED to the long running favorite school, she agreed to go look at her other preferred school. We went in September and she loved it as much as the first school and was not sure what to do then. Influences were flying back and forth. Other friends who were going to apply ED to the first fave also were rethinking that wanting to leave the options open and she started to think that way too. She was betwixed and between over this decision. Part of her wanted to just do ED now because "I won't have to make such a huge decision in April!" but I mentioned, to decide to apply ED so you aren't being called upon to make such a big decision in April (if she were even lucky enough to have such a decision to make, may not), is not a great reason because in essence by applying ED, it is making that big decision now to choose one school. And if you are even questioning it in your mind and not sure what to do, that is reason enough to not do ED as you should be certain if you do ED. She had trouble letting go of the boost ED would give her but then realized that by applying RD, it is not like she is giving the school up that she loves as she is still an applicant. She just did not take advantage of the odds thing that ED gives. She decided to apply RD and then a few days later was so unsure again but has left it to RD because that leaves options open and there is nothing to lose or question later on. I did not care if she did ED or RD and we just discussed the issues with each option and tried to just listen as she figured out what she wanted to do. The fact that she could not decide what to do, kinda says RD. It was just hard to let go of a long held plan to apply ED to a long standing dream school which still is one of her two dream schools. But the thing is she did not give anything up as she is still an applicant. It was hard to decide but now that she has, it reminds me of the older daughter who ultimately also loved two favorites (then three) and did EA as to not have to commit yet even though she knew she would be happy to attend but did not want to have to choose yet. If she had chosen, she may never have ended up at Brown and it has turned out to be a HUGE happy choice to attend there now. It took a longer process to have that decision evolve. And with the second child giving up ED, I forgot to say that had she gotten in ED, it would have meant not only knowing early but avoiding seven more trips this winter to audition at the other seven schools.</p>

<p>But the choice to go RD now makes sense and it reminds me of your daughter's dilemma above, very much. And that is why I have chosen to share it because hearing your story leads me to think that your daughter might benefit more from going RD and leaving the options open and the decison to unfold as she goes along and even attends open houses in April for admitted students. The good news is, like my kids, she realizes she can be happy at more than one school and thus, there is nothing to lose by going RD because she only needs to get into ONE school among several that she likes!</p>

<p>Good luck.....it ain't easy.</p>


<p>We are in a similar situation in our family. We saw 3 reasons/situations to apply ED.
1) Clear first choice, significantly better than any other
2) No "fall in love" perfect school, but having a school in the top 2 that gives a significant advantage to ED - think a student with a double legacy to Penn who likes Penn well enough, has admittable profile and no other hook
3) More than one perfect school, all schools with advantages and disad., and student definitely wants to get it over with, and weighs the "relief" factor of being finished higher than any regrets she may have in the spring.</p>

<p>My child fell into the 3rd group. She is the type of person who does not obsess over decisions (like I do) and who has few what ifs. She 's very adaptable, and would truly be happy at more than one place. She also will become much more enthusiastic about a reality (she's practical like that). The best Christmas present she could possibly receive would be to be able to just go to school in the spring, enjoy senior year, learn as much as she can without worrying about spoiling her GPA,and having a real place to look forward to.</p>

<p>I think emeraldkity4's point about changes over the senior year is very well taken, and DH and discussed this at length relating to our D because of the many changes we saw in her junior year, and because we weren't happy with her initial college choices - we were really afraid of her changing her mind. You have to be sensitive to your child's development and personality. I also came around to the notion that the first years of college are a real time of change, too, and you can't ever escape the fact that this 16 year old child will be making decisions for a 20 year old young woman who doesn't exist yet. In other words, let them make the best decision they can, they probably will fell differently about it 3 years down the line, no matter how what happens now.</p>

<p>Soozie posted while I was typing, I want to echo something she said. The ED decision in like the "What do I want in a school" decision. Parents can only be guides and facilitators (and inject a note of reality about financial aid, if that is an issue). I think my daughter in the long run might end up at a different school if she applied RD only, and that school might be a better fit for the person she will be in April. But ED is her decision, and if she gets in, she will be a much more relaxed senior I know. This is a tough one no doubt.</p>

<p>"She'd also be giving up a legacy boost at one of the schools if she didn't apply ED. Again, that school doesn't stand out to her as THE school of choice, but she could see herself being just as happy there as at any of the other schools."</p>

<p>Tough call!! Interesting that so many posters are offering varied viewpoints. How does the legacy school compare to the others on the list? Is it at the "significant reach" level? If the legacy school is more of a match than a reach, I wouldn't use ED there. I would use ED for a school with the greatest reach. What's the worst that can happen? She gets rejected and still gets to apply to the others in RD....which is no biggie for her because she's not "in love" with any of them. Best case scenario: she get's into a far reach school and can spend winter break with her feet up. </p>

<p>You know your child best of all. Is she the type who makes a decision and then wavers, regrets, wonders "what if"? Or, is she like my son....makes a decision, sticks to it, moves on to the next choice at hand? Has she visited the ED/legacy school? I would never have a child choose without a visit. There were certain schools that I really wanted my son to consider. I took him to visit them and we both gave each other the "nahhhhh" look. You get a feel for it when you're there....you have to visit. You don't have to visit to apply RD because you can visit after being accepted and before you make a choice. </p>

<p>Please let us know what you decide. This is interesting. And I'm with you...they keep telling us that ED doesn't help your chances.....suuuuuuuuure!</p>

<p>This is a tough call and one your D has to make as she has to live with the consequences. I tend to feel like the OP, and am more pragmatic about ED. If a student feels he could be happy at the school and not have any regrets, then go ahead and give it a whirl. But kids who are harboring that dream to go to HPY, and are being told that legacy rules at Penn and therefore should apply there, may feel remorse beyond the run of the mill "buyer's remorse" that often accompanies any decision. The student should not feel ramrodded into the decision, but should be presented with the facts and all the advantages and disadvantages of his options. Lif is just that way; you often make tradeoffs and take risks. </p>

<p>I have known kids who have done everything possible to check out a school and were as sure as could be that they had made the best choice, only to find they hate the place once they get there. Others who end up somewhere with doubts and negative feelings end up loving it there. So even the best researched, most sure choices can turn out to be the "wrong" choice. Sometimes that gut feeling is not right. Sometimes a bad visit could hex the right choice. Sometimes you can love or hate a school for all the wrong reasons.</p>

<p>Wow - this thread is bringing back thoughts I had when I first started reading CC and thought that of course ED would be the way to go. Amazing how my feelings have changed now that my son is a senior and applying to schools. I'm so much more relaxed about the whole process now and would NEVER have him apply ED. You mentioned that your D did not have a particular choice, but that she wanted to go to a top 20 LAC. THE ONE THING THAT DID MORE TO EASE THIS WHOLE PROCESS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE WAS TO LOOK AT MORE THAN THE USNWR "TOP 25!" Sorry for shouting, but there are great schools out there, just below the "top" ones that everyone chooses, and there might be one that WILL become her top choice.</p>

<p>The closer the time came to looking at schools, the more that financial considerations came into play. With ED, any weight that financial aid (merit or need-based) would play in a choice IS GONE! And play the "what if?" game: What if any one of the other good choices would come through with scholarships?</p>

<p>Anyway, I think that the whole ED process - especially in your D's case - is NOT the right approach. This is not a contest to get into a school ranked #8 instead of #12.</p>

<p>When we started looking at schools the summer before my son's junior year, we visited Brown, Harvard, MIT, CMU (strong, strong legacy connections), and others like those. My wife and I were really pushing for CMU, but S never really clicked with CMU or with any of the others. As the senior year approached and he had a better idea of what kind of program he wanted to see, we began to ignore the USNWR rankings and visited other schools. We found a school that "clicked," that wanted him, and that wanted to give him money to attend. Going back to the USNWR rankings, we found that the school was in their "Top Tier" group (top 100 or so), so we feel like not only will he get a great education, but we'll get a financial break.</p>

<p>The hardest to ignore is that tension that melted away when we stopped concentrating on the schools that everyone on CC mentions.</p>

<p>(Note: I just reread the message and it seemed to be a little more strident than I intended... apologies in advance)</p>

<p>Just wanted to let everyone know how much I appreciate each of you taking the time to read my lengthy post and provide sound (albeit conflicting!) advice. I have a couple of responsive comments, but am heading out the door for the weekend (no - not college visiting!!), so will get back to all in a few days. Hope you all have a great weekend.</p>


<p>So, is your distaste for ED more related finances than anything else?</p>

<p>I would like to echo the comments about changes. Last October our family was in much the same state of working through the options as the OP. There was no clear first or other choice. In such a situation, where the student claims that he/she would feel equally good at a number of schools. some time is likely to be needed for (a) the student to grow and (b) ideas to ferment, grow and be exchanged with others. Thnings often look a lot different in April than in October, and it's not just due to the onset of Spring.</p>

<p>And besides, if there is any chance of receiving financial aid, whether need-based of merit (and who among us is so pure as to turn down a chance to save some money on a college education? OK, there seem to be a few) then ED is, to put it technically, a no-no.</p>


<p>Good question for me... I don't know why I was so opposed to it except that I once thought it would be a good strategy. But it doesn't apply in our family's case (for financial reasons plus the schools that did ED were not on the final list). Again, that whole post was not my normal manner of speaking. I guess I was trying to discourage schoolmarm's D from using ED when there was not a clear choice.</p>


I have been away from my home for 2 weeks. Immediately before I left (2 days before) my son and I and his father had essentially the discussion that you describe. Son had 3 schools he really liked equally at the top of a list of 10 he liked and was considering applying to. Of the 3 schools, any of which I can see him happily attending though they are not all that similar, one was a school where he was a legacy. He knows that it is a school which favors legacies, but only in the ED phase.
After much discussion, he decided to apply ED to that school. The big question from us to him was...are there any schools you will regret not having applied to if you are accepted ED to this one. He said no, and was certain in his conviction.</p>

<p>In my absence he arranged to have all the paperwork from the school sent and came up with a great idea for his main essay, and wrote several versions which his English teachers reviewed. </p>

<p>I returned to a very happy and content son. I think he truly feels relieved at having made this decision, and will be very happy if he is accepted ED...and will not look back. </p>

<p>My son is young, he has just turned 17. He is likely to mature quite a bit by April (as I observed with his brother last year). However, the choice he made will probably suit him even better by then than it does now, if he is fortunate enough to be accepted. We visited 20+ schools over 2 years and there wasn't one absolute favorite- not on the days we visited, not at any time since. Why not go for one of the top 3...with the better odds??</p>

I'm glad your S did decide on ED at legacy school. I think the months between applying and hearing from schools causes so much anxiety for these kids, and one cannot avoid realizing the odds increase when applying EA or ED. Of course, he'll always wonder 'what if?", but I just don't think its worth losing the odds.
Last year, I was surprised when S rejected from a school that we thought was a match for him. While I wasn't a legacy there, there were a dozen family members, with uncles, cousins- 3 generations. He has a close friend there, and honestly would have been quite happy. However, as he applied to all schools dec. 31, no visits, he didn't even get an interview.
I'm glad Marite's S is applying EA to a certain school, for same reason of increasing odds, tho I'm sure he too would have been happy at several schools. Until reading this board, I had no appreciation for the challenge of finding and being accepted at 'good fit' colleges.</p>


<p>Thanks for thinking about my S. As you note, my S would be equally happy at several schools, even though they are a bit different in flavor and, of course, location. We run the risk of magnifying differences in the quest for the perfect fit, and also of trashing great alternatives in that quest. I've tried hard to emphasize the good points of each. We can talk about negatives AFTER he's been accepted and must make a choice.
One big plus of the process has been to force S to complete at least one application. Now, he can concentrate on other essays and getting recs from teachers.</p>

<p>Ditto, Marite and Bookworm..</p>

<p>Son #2 knows that son #1 applied ED and didn't get in, and ended up accepted at every other school he applied to...so he knows he has to stay "on task", but his relief at having made at least one decision is palpable..</p>