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Articles / Applying to College / 11th-Hour ED Misgivings
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Oct. 31, 2009

11th-Hour ED Misgivings

Question: My daughter has applied for binding Early Decision at a highly selective private college. (Applications are due tomorrow, but she's submitted hers already.) She is having second thoughts about this school being her first and only choice. We will not receive the decision from the college until December. Would you recommend I call the admissions department and withdraw the ED binding agreement and ask to have her application placed with the regular pool of applicants? I feel this would be the most honest and ethical way to handle it.

Since your daughter seems to have cold feet, it's wise to move her application into the Regular-Decision pool. However, as you and your daughter probably realize, there is usually an admissions-odds boost that comes with an Early Decision application. So your daughter will forfeit this advantage if she decides against applying ED. But she will not be otherwise penalized for this last-minute change of heart. In the past, I've seen families in a similar situation who have worried that there will be some sort of "black mark" stamped on the application folder that says "Fickle!" But there won't be, and I do agree that, if your daughter is concerned that she may not be making the right choice, it's smart to reconsider now.


The only other suggestion I can offer is that your daughter should make the call herself, and she should be sure to get the name of the person she spoke with. She will probably be told to follow up in writing and may be asked to have her school counselor do the same. While she will most likely speak with a secretary, and it might not make a difference that she she made the call--not you, it's still prudent for her to take charge of this sticky situation on her own. There's always a chance that she will be connected with the staff member who oversees her high school, so she should be steeled for that possibility as she dials. (Does anyone say "Dial" anymore?)

Good luck to her ... and to you ... whatever she decides.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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