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Early Decision and Regular Decision: Which is Right for You?

So, you have officially determined that the University of Rochester is one of your top choice schools. Congratulations! Now, you have one more option to weigh before you send out your application. Should you apply early decision (ED), or regular decision (RD)?

Applying ED is binding, and informs the admissions department that the University of Rochester is your first choice school. There are two separate deadlines for ED, depending whether you will be part of the first round (ED I) or the second round (ED II).

Learn about the logistics and deadlines of applying early decision! 

There are many factors to consider when determining when and how to apply. If you are unsure of which route is right for you, you are not alone! I interviewed the University of Rochester Director of Admissions, Jason Nevinger, to gain some insight into how to make the most informed choice. 

What are the top reasons students typically choose to apply ED?

Nevinger explained that students who apply early know for sure that “the academic experience and the place resonates with them.” 

What are the most important things to consider when choosing whether to apply ED or RD?

If you are comparing financial aid packages, Nevinger explained, then ED is likely not the best option, due to the fact that it is binding. While ED students are still considered for both admission and merit scholarships, you cannot compare packages from different schools once accepted. Students need to be sure that a school is a good fit academically, culturally, and financially. The school has to “feel right” and must “check all the boxes” in order for ED to make sense. 

If the University of Rochester is a student’s top choice school, but ED is not a feasible option, what are other ways to display this interest and stand out as an applicant?

Nevinger made it clear that there are still ways to make a strong impression without having to make a binding commitment. Interviewing, meeting with admissions representatives when they are in your area, and writing about your connection with the University of Rochester throughout your application are all ways to allow your affinity for the school to come out. Demonstrated interest is one factor in your admissions decision – it is not the most significant factor, but it can certainly help. 

Finally, as Nevinger explained, as ED grows in popularity at the University of Rochester and other schools throughout the country, there is a lot of anxiety among students who feel as though they absolutely need to apply ED in order to get into their top choice school. There are universities out there where much of the enrollment class applies ED, which can make a high schooler feel as though ED is the only option. However, this is untrue for the University of Rochester. One should only apply ED if they really feel as if this is a place they definitely want to attend. 

Why did I choose early decision?

As an ED student myself, I was very certain that the University of Rochester was my top choice before submitting my application. I had already done a campus tour, met some professors, sat in on a lecture, and carefully considered other options. I chose to apply ED because I was 100% certain that if accepted, I wanted to go here. 

I am personally very happy with my decision. I still received a merit scholarship with my acceptance, and I was able to enjoy the majority of my senior year with the relief of knowing that I had a definitive plan for college. 

In summary, if you are thinking of applying ED, consider the following:

  • Is the University of Rochester, without a doubt, your top choice?
  • Can you see yourself thriving on campus and in the surrounding areas, academically and socially?
  • If accepted, are you definitely able to attend?

If your answer to all of these questions is yes, and ED is a feasible option for you, I recommend it! If you are still any amount unsure, then RD is the way to go.

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