Should I apply Early Decision?

Early Decision does provide much better admissions odds at certain schools. Dartmouth, Cornell, and Northwestern, for example, accept almost 1 in 4 students who apply ED, while at Davidson and Williams, the odds are closer to 1 in 2. (The real-life odds are a bit less since recruited athletes and legacy applicants are typically admitted in the early round, but still, the odds are favorable!) Also, since selective schools like this often have strong graduation rates and student support services, they're an ideal fit for low-income students, who are statistically less likely to complete their college educations. The problem is, Early Decision is a system that tends to favor the wealthy—it deters families who need to compare multiple financial aid offers in the spring. What’s more, meeting a November 1st deadline can be really difficult if students haven’t had year-by-year advice on scheduling standardized tests, asking teachers in advance for recommendation letters, getting a head start on essays, etc. So that all students, regardless of income, have the option of applying early, our timeline prepares students for early deadlines, and we identify which colleges offer the strongest financial aid. Williams, for example, has a sticker price of over $66,000, but for family incomes in the $48–75k range, the average cost is $5,576. Since most colleges cost more, this is an example of how Early Decision can sometimes be the most affordable option.