Part 1: A Perfect Match
When I initially began my college search, Barnard wasn’t even on my list. I was not interested in attending a women’s college, and had very strange ideas of what that experience would be, admittedly mostly influenced by Mona Lisa Smile and Lisa Simpson. On a trip east to visit schools spring break of my junior year, my father and I had a free afternoon and decided to visit the college on a whim. One tour, one information session, and a Barnard t-shirt later, I was sure: I had found the perfect match.
I decided to apply Early Decision to Barnard because I spent the entire plane ride home envisioning my life as a Barnard student (while wearing my Barnard t-shirt and flipping through my Barnard brochure). Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for my high school graduation. In the following months, I found myself comparing all the schools I visited after Barnard to Barnard, and I found them all falling short. Come September, I was one hundred percent sure that if I received an acceptance from every school on my list, I would chose Barnard. And so Early Decision just made sense.
In my mind, there are two major benefits to applying Early Decision. First, you get it over with early. Your application is due November 1st, and by the end of December, you could know where you’re going to college before the rest of your applications are even due. Second, it is one way to send a very clear message to us that Barnard is your first choice. With an Early Decision application you are saying, I am in love with Barnard. Please, please take me. If you do, I’m yours. One of the most impossible things to wrap your head around when you are going through this very stressful process is that the college search is a two way street; we want to be wanted just as you want to be wanted.
Early Decision is not the right choice for everyone. There are a lot of valid reasons why Regular Decision might be the right choice for you. Perhaps you don’t feel like your application is ready to submit by November 1, and that you could use those few extra months to edit that essay or come up with the perfect response to that supplemental question. Perhaps you simply don’t have a clear first choice school. Perhaps Barnard is your first choice, but you don’t figure that out until February. Perhaps you feel more comfortable seeing your options in March before making a final commitment. Another important factor for many students and families is making sure the financial component works for them. This will be touched on in a post later this week. Sometimes it can feel like everyone is applying Early Decision, but remember that we still get the bulk of our applications in Regular Decision, and that everyone’s college search journey is unique.
I’ll leave you with one parting piece of advice. Early Decision should be about love, not about strategy. To borrow one of my favorite lines from a colleague: Early Decision is marriage. Regular Decision is dating. Some people need to date around a bit longer to find the right match. Some people know they’ve met the one right away. Either way, what matters is that you end up where you’re meant to be.