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What Can I Do If I Regret Applying Early Decision?

While students should be certain they will attend the college or university before applying Early Decision if accepted, life often gets in the way.

Tiffany Sorensen, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

March 12, 2015

What Can I Do If I Regret Applying Early Decision?
Before you submit an Early Decision application to a college or university, you should be 100% certain that you will attend if accepted. With that said, some students still find themselves in the conundrum of needing or wanting to break an Early Decision agreement – perhaps this describes your situation. If so, before you move forward with this decision, learn what your next steps are:

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1. Speak to the school

There are several reasons why high school students regret submitting Early Decision applications. Maybe your financial aid award is insufficient, perhaps you discovered another school that you love even more, or maybe you would like to take a year off before you start college. No matter what your motive is, the first thing you should do is reach out to the university. Tell the staff how you feel, and see what solutions they suggest. If cost is the source of your concern, the school’s financial aid office may be able to direct you to additional resources.

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If you would like to take a gap year to travel or work, the college may allow you to defer for one year. Regardless of your situation, ensure you communicate with the admissions office. Its staff may be far more compassionate and understanding than you suspect.

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2. Understand the risks

Typically, a school will disregard an Early Decision agreement only if the student will suffer financial difficulties as a result of attendance. Realizing that you prefer a different college is generally not a sufficient reason to break an Early Decision pact. If you choose to break the agreement anyway, be aware that you run various risks. The school may speak to other colleges to which you applied and inform them of your actions. In turn, these universities can rescind their admissions decisions, leaving you with no immediate options. When you break an Early Decision agreement, it also reflects poorly on your high school. The college in question may think twice before accepting future applicants from your high school, and the university might contact your guidance counselor about your decision. This can be embarrassing for both you and your high school.

3. Come to terms with Early Decision

If you decide that it is best to follow through with your Early Decision agreement, try to make the most of your situation. Remind yourself of why you applied to that university in the first place – after all, there must have been something about it that you loved. Spend at least one semester at the college, as you may realize that your worries were unfounded. If you dislike the school after a full semester, remember that you can transfer to a different institution. Although you may dread completing the transfer application process, it is a small price to pay compared to four years of unhappiness. Early Decision is a serious commitment, and breaking that commitment has consequences. However, regret over Early Decision does not have to ruin your college experience. Look into your options, contemplate them with a clear head, and choose the one that is best for you.

Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish Language & Literature from Stony Brook University.

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