Alrighty, here's a little backstory. During the fall of 2017, I applied Early Decision (ED) to my ~dream~ school, which was Dartmouth College. I loved everything about Dartmouth. It was far away from home, it had a liberal arts curriculum, sophomore summer, Ivy League prestige, and it felt like it would be a perfect fit for me.

I remember the decision day very clearly. 4 PM on December 14, 2017. I was volunteering with my high school chem club that afternoon, so I didn't check my decision until closer to 7 PM. Unfortunately, I read my update and saw that I had been deferred. Although I was extremely heartbroken and honestly quite jaded after the whole situation, it taught me a lot about the ED process. Here are some things that I categorize as the good, the bad, the emotional rollercoaster that is the ED journey.

1. Less Stress If You Get Into Your Top Choice

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I'm going to start things off with the BIG positive of applying ED. This is the ideal situation that everybody wants out of applying ED. There's nothing quite like knowing with certainty where you'll be going and that you're going to a school you absolutely love.

2. Consider the Financial Implications 

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Real Talk. Most schools who have an ED option are private colleges, and that comes with a hefty price tag. If money isn't an issue that needs to be considered then skip this section. For those of you who require financial assistance, I would definitely talk to someone in the office of financial services at the school you're looking to apply. Discuss this with your parents and evaluate the situation at hand. One of the benefits of not applying ED is being able to weigh and compare all the scholarships and aid between schools, which is honestly one of the most beneficial aspects.

3. Prepare Yourself For The Lack of Closure From a Deferral  

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Yes, rejection is bad, but from personal experience I think a deferral is MUCH worse. There's a lack of closure that hits you in one of the most painful ways. It's definitely something I'd warn you all to brace yourselves for prior to embarking on this decision. I'm also going to tell you though that it DOES get better. You will move on from this if it ends up happening to you. It's healthy to grieve, binge on some less than healthy foods, but pick yourself up. This won't define you.

4. Don't Apply ED Just Because You Think You Won't Get In RD

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Seriously, DO NOT apply ED to a school you only kinda think you like because of its prestige and because you think you have no shot during the regular decision round. If this is your sole motivation, then it would be highly detrimental to apply ED. Only apply ED somewhere you know is the right fit for you both academically and socially.

5. You WILL Find a College That You Love 

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At the end of your college journey (I promise it ends), you WILL finally commit to a school and you WILL grow to love it. Even if you feel uneasy about going to the school you choose, it's honestly really hard not to fall in love with the college you attend. These will be some of the most impactful years of your life, and you'll meet people who shape the way you view the world. Rest easy, you will find your home for the next 4 years.