May 20, 2020
Question: Should my daughter apply Early Decision at Boston College?
This is a major life decision for your family and certainly not one that should be made by a stranger on the Internet, especially because "The Dean" knows nothing about your daughter, her academic record, her interests, or goals. However, what "The Dean" can tell you is that Boston College does not offer an "Early Decision" option. Instead, students will receive a BC verdict by Christmas if they apply via Early Action. Unlike Early Decision, which requires a binding commitment, admitted Early Action candidates have until May 1 to decide whether they will enroll. This gives them time to compare other acceptances and, perhaps, scholarship offers.
BUT ... unlike some Early Action programs, the one at Boston College is "Restrictive." EA candidates at BC cannot concurrently apply to any other college via Early Decision. (Concurrent applications via Early Action, Regular Decision, or Rolling Admissions are fine.)
One key difference between Early Action, as offered by BC, and Early Decision, which may be available at some of your daughter's other target colleges, is that Early Action will not provide a boost in admission odds. As noted above, students have until May to make a final choice, and colleges don't like to save spaces for candidates who may not ultimately matriculate. Thus, they only accept the strongest contenders from their Early Action pool in this round. Early Decision, however, is quite different. Here, because colleges do lock in their admitted applicants in December, they are more likely to take a chance on a borderline student because he or she is a "sure thing." Thus, Early Decision does typically raise the chances of acceptance ... sometimes quite significantly.
So ... when you ask if your daughter should apply early to BC, I have to ask you in return if she has another front-runner college that offers binding Early Decision. If she does, she might want to consider applying there this fall instead in order to increase her admission odds. If not, then there's no down side to aiming for EA at BC unless:
-her junior grades were not up to snuff
-she didn't get off to a strong start as a senior this fall
-she won't have completed the required testing by November 1 or she has taken the tests but hopes to improve her scores
I realize that this process is confusing and requires many tough choices. I wish you and your daughter well as you make this one.