By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN
As hundreds of universities’ early decision deadlines loom, students across Redlands rush to put their finishing touches to their applications in time.
First pioneered by lower-tiered Ivy League schools in the late 20th century to prevent accepted students from attending schools like Harvard, this controversial feature promises higher chances of admission in exchange for being legally bound to matriculate and has spread to nearly every prestigious university in the nation–though some question its presence in America entirely.
Due to the binding nature of early decision, students are unable to compare financial aid packages from other colleges–something critics claim benefits the rich. However, with almost double the acceptance rate, many students are willing to take the risk.
Early decision applicants reserve the right to deny their acceptance if there is a clear, demonstrated financial hardship that would render the student unable to attend. However, this is hard to prove, and application submission fees are costly, preventing impoverished families from being able to make an informed decision on college.
Even with this potential criticism, universities still have good reason to take in early decision. A higher yield of matriculants mean less applicants to admit, which in turn leads to a lower acceptance rate altogether–directly correlated with higher rankings on USNews.com and other university review aggregators. In addition, students who applied to their university early because of it being their first choice are more likely to enjoy their time at college and eventually donate to said institution.
“I just wanted to get myself motivated to begin the process so applying early initiated the application process, and now for all regular decision applications I feel like I have a slight head start and it’s less stressful, since I’ve already written my main Common Application essay and entered all my information,” Citrus Valley senior Emily Hill noted.
Many colleges like Georgia Tech and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill make applicants apply early so they can earn prestigious scholarships. This prevents qualified students who would be competitive for the Ivy League from applying to schools within it and attending them, ensuring that a pool of extremely talented individuals remain as students and donating alumni in the future.
In reaction to this, highly-ranked institutions like Stanford University and Harvard University switched to a non-binding Early Action program in 2006 in which applicants cannot apply early to any binding programs but can not only apply to state schools and scholarship-granting colleges but also decline to attend.
“I did early action to Loyola Marymount University, Northeastern University, and the University of Redlands,” REV Senior Sahiba Khera explains, “I applied just because there is a better chance of me getting accepted, because the colleges see that you would want to go there.” Khera was able to apply early to so many schools because of these recent reforms.
No matter which avenue through which students across the school district intend to apply early to Universities, the process is taxing–for both applicants and their teachers.
“I doubt that there are any teachers who like to write letters of recommendation,” AP English teacher Jody Bradberry says, “but we do it for the kids because we love them and want the best for their future.”
Only time will tell if these hopefuls’ efforts result in a coveted acceptance letter from a premier university. At any rate, students do not have time to stress over their decision–UC and regular decision application deadlines are quickly approaching.