Vakil: Northwestern should eliminate Early Decision


Caroline Vakil, Columnist

The Daily reported this past December that Northwestern admitted more than half of its incoming class through Early Decision. Consequently, the acceptance rate of Regular Decision applicants will likely be 10 percent or less.

I’m not sure this is something to celebrate. Rather, I believe NU should take away Early Decision.

Being able to apply Early Decision is a luxury that many students do not have. When students apply Early Decision, they are rendered unable to compare financial aid packages between the schools to which they were admitted. As a result, most applicants who apply through this legally binding contract have the financial means to consider the financial aid of only one school.

In effect, students who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are forced to apply Regular Decision, substantially hurting their chances of admission. This ultimately creates a more homogeneous student population — one in which many of its students can afford to commit to a school with little knowledge of the financial aid they will be receiving. Students who have to apply through Regular Decision at NU ultimately pay the consequences later. The acceptance rate drops from 32 percent for Early Decision to around 10 percent for Regular Decision.

Applying Early Decision is beneficial because it can demonstrate to a college you’re serious about applying to it and are motivated to go there. However, it also operates under the assumption that a student applying through Regular Decision lacks this motivation, which is unfair.

The other issue I have with the Early Decision policy is that it assumes that preferences of high school students stay consistent and that they know which college will work best for them. To be fair, students have a general idea of which colleges they like and don’t like, but to assume they already know exactly where they want to go in December is unrealistic.

Committing to Early Decision denies students the opportunity to change their mind. It’s not unheard of to change a major, so who is to say you won’t change the your college of choice?

Although some students definitely know which colleges they want to attend, it never hurts to come into the application process with an open mind. By researching different types of colleges, students are exposed to a variety of potential college experiences. Whether students choose schools based on location, major offerings or other factors, the research process is crucial to weeding out colleges so that students can find experiences that fit their needs.
As a transfer student myself, I understand that choosing the right college is important because it dictates how the rest of your college career goes. I chose not to apply to NU through Early Decision because I not only wanted to have options about where I wanted to go to school, but also because I realized that it would not be financially feasible to limit my options in the event that I was accepted through Early Decision.

To counteract this explicit favoritism, the Early Decision option should be done away with so all students are considered on an individual basis, with no preference given to students applying early.

Caroline Vakil is a Medill sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.