Early applications aren’t as beneficial as previously thought September 23, 2013 — by Rohan Hardikar & Nelson Wang Many private universities offer students two options to apply early: early action and early decision. Early decision requires students who are admitted to attend the university, while early action doesn’t. Many private universities offer students two options to apply early: early action and early decision. Early decision requires students who are admitted to attend the university, while early action doesn’t. Some universities offer a different type of early action called restrictive early action. If students are admitted early, they are not required to attend; however, they are only allowed to apply to one early, thus earning the name “restrictive.” Both of these types of early applications have their pluses and minuses, but the negatives outweigh the positives. Restrictive early action prevents students from expanding the number of universities they apply to that have early action programs and early decision presents problems financially. Most universities that have early action allow students to apply to other schools with early action, but this restrictive program hinders the chances of students to get into a university of their choice. Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale have this restrictive early action program. The admissions process is already extremely competitive for these schools because they fall in the top 10 universities in the country, Princeton earning the No. 1 rank. A study from Parchment, an online college statistics database, stated that for the senior class in the year 2010-2011 the acceptance rate for Yale University was 7.5 percent. This is already an extremely low acceptance rate, and if a student wants to increase his chances of having multiple top universities to choose from, he should have the opportunity to apply to other schools that have early action programs. In addition to the problems with early action, the early decision system is flawed and needs some major changes. Early decision is binding, meaning that if one is accepted by a college through early decision, they must attend that college and reject all other college acceptances. As a result, acceptance rates tend to be higher for early-decision students. However, this provides a problem for students who need financial aid. By entering a binding agreement, they are unable to compare financial aid packets between different colleges, eliminating the possibility of negotiating with other colleges for financial assistance. Some might say that the people devoted to going to a college do not care too much about financial aid, but the biggest problem is that it deters people from being devoted at all. Imagine a kid with a 4.5 GPA and a 2400 score on his SAT, but comes from a low income family. He is aware of the fact that he could make an early decision to Dartmouth and be accepted, but he is not sure if his family can afford the tuition. This problem prevents bright, young students from applying early decision to some schools. With college tuition reaching tens of thousands of dollars annually, early decision is clearly unfair, since people in need of financial aid are less likely to apply for it. By not allowing them to compare financial aid options, students who need assistance have less opportunity than those who do not. The system should strive to offer equal educational opportunity to everyone, but the students who need the most help are the ones most deprived of an opportunity to succeed. In addition, restrictive early action is a problem in the current system as well, since it also limits options for students; colleges should strive to release financial aid options earlier and allow for more early action applications. Taking these two courses of action would increase the chances of success for students planning on applying early.