Introducing Early Decision

By Christine Cole Harden

Santa Clara offers a new option for students who know right off that this is where they want to be.

Beginning this fall, prospective students who rank Santa Clara as their No. 1 choice—and want the University to know it—will have a new option when applying for admission: Early Decision. It’s a binding program with a Nov. 1 deadline—the same as the University’s Early Action program, which is nonbinding.

As for Early Decision: Students who are ready to make a commitment need to talk with their parents and high school guidance counselors about it, as all three parties must sign an agreement on the Common Application stating the intent to commit upon acceptance. What are the benefits? A shorter waiting period for a decision; time and money saved on submitting multiple applications; more time to make housing arrangements and prepare for college if accepted; and time to apply elsewhere if not accepted.

There is a trade-off with early decision: Students cannot apply to other schools’ early decision programs; they can, however, apply to other early admission and regular-deadline programs. If admitted to SCU early decision, they must withdraw their applications elsewhere and commit to Santa Clara. (The nonbinding Early Action option allows students to wait until May 1 to commit.)

For the University, the new program is a helpful enrollment management tool, notes Michael Sexton, vice president of enrollment management. “We’ve seen a 41 percent increase in applications during the last three years,” he says, adding that this year alone, the admissions office reviewed 1,000 more applications than last year—with no additional staff support. Early Action applicants are also on the rise—up 47 percent in the last three years.

In terms of being binding, early decision does offer one exception: According to the agreement on the Common Application, if the financial aid package offered by a university won’t permit an admitted student to attend, he or she may decline the offer of admission and be released from his or her commitment.

And, of course, if Early Decision and Early Action aren’t routes that students want to take when applying, there’s still the regular admission process.

 

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