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How to Get Out of Early Decision

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December is National Early Decision Month, when high school seniors learn whether they got into their top choice, "ED" colleges.

The official party line about how Early Decision works goes a little somethin' like this:

  • Aspiring college student falls in love with THE college that he/she is dying to get into (obviously, the college must be impossible to get into, otherwise, who would be dying to go there?)
  • Aspiring college student submits his application, indicating that he's "going ED"
  • If college admits him, he MUST go

There's only one problem with the above:  

It's false.  Fake news. 

Here's the way things really work with Early Decision, just in case you never hear this from your guidance counselor (more on that below).

First, nothing and nobody can compel you to attend a college, no matter what box you checked on your college application.

Second, the Early Decision agreement is not binding, legally speaking.  In...

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College Applications Up By How Much (and does it matter)?

Apparently college applications as of January are up by 22% compared to last year.

High school seniors are applying to more schools, according to one college consultant (not me, but I'm also seeing the same trend in my anecdotal, micro-universe).

Does that mean that it will be harder to get into college this year? Permit me to make a few comments.

First, more applications does not mean more APPLICANTS applying to college.  The number of kids applying is actually trending down, partially due to predicted demographics, and partially because of the pandemic, economy and outrageous cost of college, which has risen every year since the beginning of time.

(Side prediction:  next year's increase in college costs will again outstrip the current, also outrageous inflation numbers reported this week.)

Second, as the Common App data weenies point out, more applications does not equate to more enrollments.  Colleges will still have to scrap tooth and nail to convince...

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How to Play the College Decision Waiting Game

I've gotten a fair amount of "what do we do now?" types of questions from clients, so I figured you might want to know how I answer them.

Meaning, kids have worked their tushes off all summer and fall on applications, essays and so forth, and finished up a few weeks or months ago.  

It feels like they should be doing SOMETHING!  

But the truth is, they're done.

Now it's time to wait, until "mid-December" or "late December" (gee, thanks for the certainty, admissions peeps).

is there anything to do other than sit around with your thumb up your you-know-what?

Of course.  Here are a few tips, off the top of the ol' noggin:

  • Continue to get great grades.  (Yes, that may seem like a Captain Obvious statement, but the first half of senior year of high school is tough, Senioritis can happen after acceptances come in. Not now. But ONLY mild, Omicron-esque cases are permitted!
  • Send in them grades!  Assuming you did well in the first quarter, have your guidance...
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What if you get 'dinged" by your Dream School?

Nobody likes to be told "Um, no. Not you." but this is the time of year for Early Denial.

Countless college applicants will be told that they didn't get into the college they "ED'd" to.

Fun?  Nope.

Does it matter?  Highly doubtful.

Typically, this time of year you'll see articles about famous, successful people who didn't get into their top choice colleges (Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, Antonin Scalia - how's that for an eclectic threesome?). The point of these articles is that the world didn't end for these rejectees, and neither should it end for this year's batch of college applicants.

I wrote about this briefly in my "snail mail" client newsletter, and make these comments annually because I think they're worth repeating.  I tell all of my private 1:1 college advising students words the effect of

"You will be successful in life no matter where you go to college, because of your work ethic, intelligence and interpersonal skills.  There is no correlation between where you...

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Blunt advice for parents of college-bound teens

I don't think it's me (I never do) but this year has been CRAZIER than ever.

I'm not only referring to the kids we coach through the college application process: parents have gone bonkers too!

On the kid-side, we had in inordinate number of seniors making last minute, final revisions to their essays yesterday for November 1 deadlines...

 
Even though we started drafting them in July!


Re:  parents, I cannot begin to tell you how many "helped" their children by stepping in, pushing them aside and completely taking over the essay-writing process.  I see it every year, but I've never seen it this bad.

I'm not just griping.  There's an important point here, that's all-too-easy to get lost in the shuffle:  If you, parent, take over the college applications for your child, you are sending them an unsubtle message...

You can't do this yourself


Not exactly a confidence builder, right?

Trust me, I know how busy our children are, and I understand the impulse to help. ...

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