How to Pick an Early Decision School

For seniors, the timeline to submitting applications is getting shorter and shorter, leaving many asking the question of how to select a school for Early Decision. While the school should definitely be a reach (but a reasonable one!), lots of students are torn between two or three places and wondering how to make up their minds. One of the best ways to do that is going back to the schools you are considering this fall and doing a deeper dive on your visit before applications are due.

On these return visits, I always recommend going while school is in session, which it generally is between now and November 1st. You want to use this time on campus to get a sense of what life is like there for students and how you would fit in. By now, you probably have a better sense of what you would like to do in college, even if you haven’t completely made up your mind. You know what types of classroom environments you’d like to be in and what types of people you’d like to be around. So look for that!

When you’re there on campus, try and imagine what life would be like for you a year from now. What classes would you be taking? Go sit in on one of those. Where would you be having your meals with friends? Go eat in that dining hall. How would you be spending your free time? Go read the student newspaper to see what is happening on campus. Maybe you can even stop by a football game, theater production, or lecture to see the environment there as well.

I would also spend some time around campus getting answers to questions that you are going to have down the road. How easy is it to change majors? What classes are you required to take (and is this a deal breaker for you)? How accessible are the professors? What is the Career Development Office like? Feel free to even drop by the office to get a sense of how they are working with students and helping them get set for life after college. These are all things that will come up down the road, so why not get a jump on them now before you sign a binding Early Decision commitment?

Julia returns to her alma mater, Princeton!

Julia returns to her alma mater, Princeton!

And as always, don’t hesitate to ask your instructors about their experience if they went to one of these schools you’re considering. Also, consider asking one of our advisors if any LP alum are attending a school you’re considering. We would be happy to connect you with them so you can really learn what it’s like to be a student there. Everyone loves to brag about their alma mater, and this decision is important. So, let us know how we can help you to feel truly empowered to make your final decision.