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Second Guessing Yourself After Early Decision or Early Action? Read This

Colleges are releasing Early Decision and Early Action results sooner than ever. Several of the private, highly selective colleges released decisions last week and there will be even more to come this week. No matter what the decision is, there is a fair amount of second guessing that hits this time of year. Students, even those who were admitted, start to question themselves and whether they made the right decision when it comes to their college list.

I'm here to tell you that it's perfectly normal. Before you spend too much time doubting yourself, know that you are on the right path.


For those lucky students who get admitted to their Early Decision college, congratulations! Even if you are having a few doubts about committing to one school early on in the process, give yourself a little time to adjust to the idea. Many won't admit it, but lots of students wonder if they applied to the right college after getting admitted in the Early Decision round. Yet, in all the years I have worked in this field, it is hard to think of one student who was admitted to an Early Decision program who wasn't completely happy with their choice once they enrolled (even those that had their doubts).

For those Early Action admitted students, you often question whether you should apply to anymore colleges now that you are admitted somewhere. If you were admitted to your first choice and you don't need to compare financial aid awards, stop there. That's because if you know you are ultimately going to enroll there, applying to more colleges becomes unnecessary. It also will decrease the chances of admission for other applicants at those additional colleges you have no interest in. But if you truly need to compare financial aid awards or you are just not sure, be thoughtful about additional applications. As you know by now, the cost of applying, both in terms of your budget and your sanity, starts to add up.


Deferred and denied students feel the most uncertain about themselves and the process. But I promise you that opportunities await you in the coming months. You don't need to double your college list overnight. You typically don't need to rewrite your college essay either. You just want to be thoughtful about the rest of your colleges on your list.

Additional essays may be required, but at this point, your writing is much stronger now than it was when you wrote your essays for an Early Decision or Early Action school. Use this to your advantage. And reach out to the college admissions office or your admissions officer directly. Let them know how interested you are in the college. Why? Because in Regular Decision, it is very hard for a college to predict how interested a student is in them. If they have some assurances from you, your chances of admission increase if you are already competitive in their applicant pool. So if you have a new first choice college, let them know.

"When applying Regular Decision, always let your first choice college know how interested you are in attending." TWEET THIS

I am always surprised at the end of the admissions cycle. Those students I endlessly worried about, especially those who didn't get admitted to their Early Decision or Early Action school, always end up where they should. It just takes them a little longer to see it because they have had one college in mind for so long. And if for some reason they truly don't like their options, sometimes the best opportunities reveal themselves at unexpected moments. That is not to say to just sit back at wait things out, though. 

Do. Do apply to the rest of your colleges with every bit of intentionality and commitment. It is always obvious when a student puts the time into an application and gave it their all. 

Take risks. Reach out to your favorite colleges (once is enough). Let them see an incredibly passionate individual waiting for an opportunity. You will never regret it.

And, believe in yourself. You have youth on your side. Nothing (not even a college lower on your list) will get in the way of your ultimate success. It's just a matter of what you do with the opportunities you receive.