Most early decision or early action applicants will be receiving their decisions this week. And on the eve of Penn’s early decision release tomorrow at 6 pm, it is important for us to take a step back and remember the bigger picture. Let’s take this time to prepare for the three possible outcomes…
You might be encouraged to explore other options. You have been let go from your early choice. Take a deep breath. It is okay to feel frustrated and disappointed. These are difficult decisions in an increasingly selective process; they are not easy for the Committee. There are thousands of great schools in our country and throughout the world so take this time to focus on new possibilities instead of what won’t be. Acknowledge the decision but do not let it define you.
You might be deferred. The Admissions Committee would like to review your application during the regular decision process. If you applied to an early decision school, you are no longer in a binding agreement with your early university. While you should note, and act on, any information your school offers to deferred candidates–at Penn, FAQs on the decision portal direct students to next steps–you should also be excited about the schools you are applying to during the regular decision cycle.
If your decision falls in one of the above categories, it’s time to clear your head (perhaps take a run) and focus on possibilities going forward. This decision has opened up an infinite array of opportunities in other communities and with different programs. Look over the 5 I’s and 4 C’s again and let yourself get excited about your fit with other great options. You have plenty of time over the next few weeks to go over your college list and working drafts of applications– the deadline at most schools for Regular Decision isn’t until early or mid-January.
You might also consider Early Decision II. For students with a clear second choice, this is a great option. If you go this route, now is the time to fill out your Early Decision II application in its entirety. As I reminded students last year at this time, don’t treat this like an Early “Light.” Convey your enthusiasm with specific details of fit.
There is a third possibility.
You might be admitted. Congratulations. This is quite an accomplishment; you are welcomed to a new community. Get excited. Tell your family and mentors. Explore all of the exciting materials your new school has shared—click on every link, watch every video, and connect with your future classmates. Celebrate, yet remember to be respectful of friends who might not have been admitted early decision. Your early school will still review your senior year grades so continue to keep your grades up throughout senior year.
Good luck everyone. This is an important moment–I encourage you to be ready to receive any decision with an open mind (chocolate won’t hurt either).