College admissions offices have already begun to notify Early Decision applicants as to whether they are “in,” “out,” or “deferred,” I’ve already discussed the steps that families may take if they are in or deferred through Early Decision. But what if they are out?
Here are three tips to help:
- Ask yourself: what did you like about the Early Decision school? Write down every reason that you chose this school as your first choice. Then consider if there are other schools that are as much like it as possible. If it was academics, look for similar programs, especially if they are in similar locations. Suppose NYU was the Early Decision school because you liked the idea of studying business in New York City. Fordham offers many similar opportunities, in Manhattan and the Bronx. Rutgers-New Brunswick, while larger, offers them a train ride away from the city. Those opportunities might also be available at schools in Philadelphia such as Drexel, Saint Joseph’s or Temple.
- Consider other schools that might have already sent an acceptance under Early Action or Rolling Admissions. Sometimes a school that sent an early acceptance will become more appealing, especially if has most of the things that you liked about the school that you applied Early Decision. But unlike Early Decision, admissions under Early Action or Rolling Admissions are non-binding. You can take your time until May 1st to decide if one of these schools is for you.
- Research financial best bets, if you want to apply to more schools, and if you are concerned about costs. A financial best bet might be a school with a much lower sticker price, possibly one where you will not need a scholarship to help cover costs, or it might be one where you have an excellent chance of receiving and keeping your merit aid. Check out their Web pages regarding merit-based scholarships as well as the deadlines to apply. More college admissions offices are advising applicants to get their materials in early (usually before December 15th) to be considered for merit awards.
Whatever course(s) of action you take, the most important objective is to find a small number of schools–I suggest no more than eight–that might be best fit, and have a choice among those schools when it comes time to make a decision. Even a “safe” school should be a place where s/he is likely to be happy.