Few experiences leave students as apprehensive, restless and wracked with self-doubt as the college application process, except perhaps the subsequent wait for a letter in the mail. Fortunately, early admission programs give applicants the opportunity to expedite the process. And although applying early may not statistically put prospective students at an advantage, it has the significant benefit of shortening this stretch of anxiety.

Some universities offer early decision programs, which require students to attend the school if accepted. Other admissions departments have single-choice early action policies, which are non-binding but restrict students from applying early elsewhere.

As Georgetown’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions prepares to send out decision letters to early applicants Dec. 15, it has already made the most important decision: to offer an early action application that is nonrestrictive and nonbinding.

Georgetown’s early action policy is preferable because it recognizes that seniors in high school cannot all be expected to know which school is right for them so far in advance. No campus tour or open house can encapsulate the many aspects of a particular college’s undergraduate experience, and other universities do prospective students a disservice by not allowing applicants to explore other
options in the early admissions process.

There are, of course, those students who have always known that they wanted to come to the Hilltop for whom restrictive programs that demonstrate an applicant’s commitment lend an appreciable leg up. Even these students, however, may not necessarily know the entirety of the Georgetown experience or fully understand life on the Hilltop — or at any college — simply because they have yet to experience it for themselves.

Early action candidates who chose to apply early to Georgetown over other peer institutions like Columbia, Duke or Penn that have binding programs do in fact demonstrate some level of preference for what the Hilltop has to offer and are thus more likely to matriculate if admitted. A restrictive program effectively eliminates a portion of these students who, while interested in Georgetown, would also like to hear back from other nonbinding universities and perhaps weigh different scholarship options. This decreases the pool of early applicants not only in number but in talent and potential.

Early action programs are a valuable option for students who want to get the anxiety of admissions out of the way, but even they should be allowed to make sure that one of the biggest choices they have made in their lives is the right one.

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