ED and REA College Applications – Are They Good Options for You?

5 Questions to Help You Choose

Fall and the November Early Decision (ED), Restrictive Early Action (REA), and Early Action (EA) deadlines are looming for thousands of college applicants. The complexity of choosing the application option cannot be overstated. Definitions are easy to find, but definitions alone do not give you the student (or your parents) the expertise to choose the option that will best help you:

  • Get in – Improving the admission odds for you to get admitted to the college you most desire; and
  • Know whether a school is your best-fit option before applying. It’s too late to consider the question once you receive an Early Decision offer, and applying REA is wasting an opportunity if another school is a better fit.

So what is the best approach to deciding whether to choose one of the restrictive application options, ED or REA?  To arrive at your decision, answer the following 5 questions:

  1. Is the college the right environment for you; i.e., are you likely to succeed among the other students who typically thrive there?
    • If not and you are admitted, you are at risk of plummeting self-confidence, severe loneliness, even depression.
  2. Are your academic credentials above the college’s median point in their published range for admitted students?
    • If not and you are admitted, you will see yourself beneath other students with better credentials. No one deserves four years of that.
  3. What about your test scores; are they above the median point in the college’s published range for admitted students?
    • You should have 100 points above the SAT median, 40 points above for SAT Subject Tests, and/or a score of 35 or 36 on the ACT by the application deadline.
  4. Do you have a genuine, demonstrated capability that sets you apart from other students who can answer “yes” to 1, 2, and 3 above?
    • Demonstrated is the key. Making things up and writing about something you heard because it is interesting is not the same as a demonstrated capability. Something made up lacks supporting details, is inconsistent with other parts of the application (including recommendations), and is easily identified as false.
  5. Have you prepared an outstanding essay with a high degree of integrity, one that vividly reveals your aptitude for independent critical thinking?
    • A winning essay is full of energy, written clearly with simple words, and has a young and innocent tone in an authentic voice that doesn’t mimic an adult.

If the answer to at least 4 of the 5 questions above is YES, then you should select the ED (or REA) application option for that specific college.

IF NOT, then applying ED or REA could mean that you miss out on applying ED or REA to another college where you would be more likely to achieve college and career success beyond your imagination!

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