By Freya Strasburg
As the competition between applicants grows stronger every year, students are relying increasingly on early decision (ED for short) to gain admission into colleges and universities. However, middle and lower class students do not have this option.
Early decision is an admissions option that requires the student to sign a contract stating that the student will withdraw all other applications, and commit to attending the school if admitted. Along with this comes a financial commitment that the students and parents make, saying that they will pay tuition regardless of the financial aid package they receive. For most kids in La Cañada, this is not concerning. However, for the average middle class student, applying early decision is a huge gamble.
The consequence of being admitted ED and being unable to pay tuition often involves the student not being able to attend college for that year and having to wait for the next admission cycle. Furthermore, most schools require deposits that usually cost hundreds of dollars; if you decide not to attend, then the deposit is lost. Although colleges claim to award 100% of demonstrated need-based aid, the reality is that financial aid packages don’t necessarily cover the amount that families need to pay tuition. And in most cases, this uncertainty causes middle and lower-class kids not to apply early.
For this year’s (2015) early admission cycle, the statistics showed how applying early decision can increase an applicant's chance of getting into a school by almost 15%. Duke University’s ED rate was 26% compared to their 11% RD rate. Similarly, the University of Pennsylvania’s ED rate was 24% compared to their 10% RD rate. Since it is proven that applying ED increases an applicant's chance, then it is completely unfair that the upper class gets an advantage over low income kids.
So how can we change this? I believe that all early decision should be changed to early action in order to not give an advantage to wealthier students. This way, middle and lower class students will not be bound to a financial commitment, but will receive the benefit of applying early. This change would even the playing field for all applicants, regardless of income.
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