Should You Apply Early Decision?

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This time of year one of the more frequently asked questions we receive is about the advantages and disadvantages of applying Early Decision to Johns Hopkins University. As high school seniors get used to their schedules and begin to balance their time between classes, activities, and college applications, the question looms about whether to apply early to any colleges on “the list.” With the November 1 deadline under a month and a half away, I thought I would provide some resources that may be helpful in making the “to ED or not to ED” question a bit easier.

To ED or not to ED: Well how much does this picture excite you about going to Johns Hopkins University?

To ED or not to ED: Well how much does this picture excite you about going to Johns Hopkins University?

The first place I encourage you to turn to is a blog entry we posted last fall composed by Dean of Admissions John Latting: Early Decision: the Pros and Cons. Dean Latting provides a detailed look at why one might want to apply Early Decision, as well as the questions one should ask prior to make such a decision. You can also find a full list of FAQs about applying Early Decision to Johns Hopkins here: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/faq_early.html.

Back in November of 2006 (wow, nearly five years ago!), I posted a blog entry about my thoughts on Early Decision: To ED or not to ED. Though times have changed, and our applicant pool has grown significantly and acceptance rates have fallen, many of my thoughts back then still apply today in making the decision about committing to our Early Decision program. Here are just a few of my thoughts, in a nice bullet-form fashion:

  • If Hopkins if your definitive first choice, then Early Decision is definitely for you.
  • If your main reasons for applying ED are tactical (i.e. you believe there to be a competitive advantage) you may want to reconsider your approach.
  • Applying ED should be about FIT, and not about one’s chances for admission.
  • The benefits of applying ED are being reviewed in a smaller pool of applicants, and showing interest.
  • ED is binding. We do not offer any non-binding early plans.
  • Financial Aid will not be limited if you apply ED.
  • We do not fill our class with ED students, so Regular Decision applicants have the same chances for admission.
  • Finally, one important thing to keep in mind is that the Early Decision Plan at Johns Hopkins is binding. If you decide to apply Early Decision, you wouldn’t be able to apply to any other binding early plans, and you’d be required to withdraw applications to any other schools if you’re admitted to Johns Hopkins. Basically, if admitted you will only be able to review an offer of admission from one school.
Should you ED? Well how much do you want to live in Baltimore?

Should you ED? Well how much do you want to live in Baltimore?

This year I decided to add to this discussion about advice in determining whether Early Decision is the right choice, but providing you all with some thoughts from students. I asked a number of students I knew well to discuss why applying ED to Johns Hopkins was the right decision for them. Hopefully their comments will help as you make the decision whether to apply by November 1 and sign the ED contract, or hold off and apply by January 1 as an RD applicant.

Mandy Stein – Class of 2011 graduate (now currently a first-year law student at Washington University)
Major: Public Health Studies
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

I applied Early Decision because I knew Hopkins was a great fit for me and that it was exactly where I wanted to spend the next four years. Applying under a binding contract was a little bit intimidating at first; the idea of giving up any hypothetical offers from other universities seemed scary. But after visiting the campus, and with the support of my family, I knew that I was ready to commit to Hopkins if they were willing to take me. The best part about applying Early Decision was that I knew in December where I’d be going to college – it made for a nice Christmas present and a great way to keep up the motivation during my senior year!

Trisha Lala – Sophomore
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania

Applying Early Decision is a difficult decision to make because, in my opinion, a student has to be so committed to their ED school that it would be their absolute first choice no matter what. After visiting Hopkins, talking to some of the members of the very open and welcoming student body, and learning about some of their programs, I knew it was the place for me. I think I was one of the few fortunate people who can honestly say that I felt that I belonged at Hopkins. I could imagine myself there, and thought it was logical to apply ED. Now I know that applying ED was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Kevin Cryan – Freshman
Majors: Political Science and French Cultural Studies
Hometown: Southport, Connecticut

I knew that I wanted to apply Early Decision to Hopkins once I realized both that this was the school I used as the metric to judge all other colleges by, and that all other colleges came up wanting. I would visit other colleges and immediately judge them in a “hmm, they don’t have as nice a campus /open a curriculum/rigorous academics /comfortable an atmosphere as Hopkins…” fashion. Once I visited a few more colleges and came to this realization, the choice became pretty clear.

Becca Krishnan-Ayer – Junior
Major: History of Art
Hometown: Houston, Texas

I visited Hopkins in the fall of my senior year, frustrated after countless mediocre college visits during my junior year. Something about my college visit to Hopkins clicked with me – the campus, the students I met, even the coffee shop in Levering Hall. I felt like I could really envision myself as a Hopkins student, studying at MSE library, passing through the breezeway en route to class, eating at the FFC, lounging on the water-less “Beach” on Charles Street. My decision to apply to Early Decision extended far beyond my campus visit, however. Throughout my college search, I continually kept coming back to schools that were prestigious, mid-sized institutions, located in or proximal to a large city, offering abundant resources in terms of research and extracurriculars. I wasn’t one of the students that knew exactly what I wanted to study or pursue career-wise (in fact, I had no clue) and so I also was looking for a school that had strong academics in a range of departments (arts, sciences, engineering). Hopkins fit the bill on all accounts. The students seemed just like me—motivated and hard-working academically, but social and multifaceted in their interests. Hopkins was the only university that offered everything I was seeking out of my college education—strong academics, extracurricular and research opportunities, renowned professors, a diverse student body, an international reputation, Greek life, Athletics, and a convenient location. I applied ED because I wanted admissions to know that Hopkins was my number one choice out of all the colleges I was planning on applying to, and I knew that if I was accepted, I would be absolutely thrilled to enroll and attend.

Allysa Dittmar – Sophomore
Majors: International Studies and Global Environmental Change and Sustainability
Hometown: Cream Ridge, New Jersey

Hopkins was the first school I visited because it was close to home and it was at the very top of my list. I remember my visit vividly—I was absolutely taken aback by the beautiful campus. Visiting reaffirmed my belief that Hopkins was the one. I visited many colleges and ended up with ten schools on my list, with Hopkins at the top. After each visit, I still wanted to go to JHU. I did my applications with Hopkins’ Early Decision application on top of the pile. December 15th was truly one of the best days in my life. While my other friends were still filling out applications or trying to figure out where they wanted to attend, I was exploring Hopkins’ websites, majors, and visiting the campus and my Hopkins friends. In the end, I always tell others that I picked Hopkins because it fit me. I felt at home. I felt like I could thrive at Hopkins—achieve my goals, succeed, and be happy.

Nick Ginsberg – Sophomore
Majors: Computer Science and Economics
Hometown: Woodbridge, Connecticut

Early was the right decision for me because it gave me the ability to be secure in my future education and to know that where I was going was my number one choice long before many of my peers heard back.  For months, I was able to get excited about coming to Hopkins as others awaited the ever unsure letters back from their schools.  Not only that, but from the moment I came to Hopkins I knew it was the right place for me and by applying early I secured a spot in the class of 2014 as soon as possible.  It was one of the best decisions of my life, and had I not done it, who knows what would have ended up happening.

So: Is Early Decision right for you?

2 Comments

  • By Vaibhav, September 25, 2011 @ 11:24 AM

    Thanks for this feedback – really helps in making the choice

  • By Rebecca, September 26, 2011 @ 5:24 PM

    Thank you so much! This really helped me clear up doubts and made me realize what I need to do.

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