This is oftentimes the point in the year when controversial college Facebook statuses start appearing as high school students express their glee at getting into X college. The fact that these students know where they’re going next year can be a cause of distress to students who applied Regular Decision to schools, but there are in fact many advantages to taking the slower option. Although the wait for RD applicants can be long and hard, take comfort in the uncertainty and know that there are many valid reasons to take a little more time to submit your applications.
1. You need more time to work on your essays. So maybe you procrastinate a little, or maybe you don’t at all, but chances are your essays will probably be a lot better in December than in October. By waiting it out you have more time to get friends, family, and teachers to proofread your essays, and to change topics entirely if need be.
2. You need more time to figure out where you even want to apply. A big, big mistake that some people unfortunately make is applying ED to a school that they might not have even heard of a year ago and that they haven’t sufficiently researched. Just because you love the campus tour doesn’t mean that it’s the right place for you—consider academic programs, cost, and outside information before pouncing on an ED school. The last thing you want to do is end up regretting your “perfect” school, and by simply applying regular decision you’ll have enough time to make up your mind.
3. You need your first semester senior year grades. For many students, the first semester of senior year makes all the difference. If your GPA will improve a lot by factoring in first semester grades, then it might be worth it to stick it out, apply later, and have a better chance of getting into your dream school when you apply regular decision.
4. You want a senior year teacher to write you a recommendation. Although unorthodox, some students end up growing very close to a specific teacher their last year of high school. It’s totally okay to ask for a rec from this person, although as usual it would be best to have them in an AP class or a core subject. In this case, it would almost always be necessary to apply RD to give the teacher time to get to know you a little better.
5. You need a better financial aid package. This is the case for many students. If you apply ED somewhere, you have less flexibility in comparing financial aid packages from different schools. A lot of schools nowadays actually do let you decline an ED offer if the financial aid isn’t good enough, but make sure you check for that on the school’s website before applying.
6. You need a better chance of getting in. Believe it or not, for some schools it’s better to apply RD than Early Action. This is oftentimes because the strongest students in the applicant pool apply earlier in the cycle, simply because they’re more prepared for the process. If it’s a school that you feel like you might not get into, make sure to check the admit rates for the EA and RD cycles separately. Another thing to keep in mind is that many schools admit their athletes ED—these are students who were always going to get in, so they artificially drive up the admit rate for the early cycles when it might actually be just as good to apply RD.
7. You just need more time, period. Maybe you’ve had a busy summer or a tough time at the beginning of senior year. There’s nothing wrong with holding back, applying to most of your schools RD, and just waiting until the spring to find out where you’re going. That’s the way high school students did it for years, before EA and ED were even invented. In the college admissions game, slow and steady might just win the race.