Yesterday, a woman called us, fraught with a dilemma. Her daughter had gotten into her top choice college. So, what was the problem? Well, they applied for financial aid, and they didn't get enough money from the school.
She asked if there was a way to get the college to cough up more cash. Normally, I would have said yes, there are a few things we can try.
Unfortunately, she then dropped a bomb. Her daughter had applied Early Decision. She thought that since they were a minority ethnicity, it would guarantee more aid.
It was too late, I'm sorry, I told her. I couldn't help. I wished she had called us a few months ago so I could have advised them not to make this crucial mistake.
You see, when you apply to a college Early Decision, you are already making the decision. Hence the name. You are affirming, in writing, that if the college accepts you, you will attend and withdraw your application to all other colleges.
Colleges really like this. They like commitment. It's tuition dollars they can bank on. They know you're interested, and they know they can count on you to attend. Therefore, they're more willing to accept you. That's why Early Decision acceptance rates are so high.
That's also why Early Decision applicants don't get offered a lot of money. The college doesn't feel the need to persuade you any further. You've already made the decision, after all.
The only option for this student is to tell the college she's financially unable to attend - the only way to sever the contract. She will have to give up the acceptance offer and her dream of attending this school. She may try to apply again as a transfer next year, but her chances of acceptance will be much slimmer, especially since it's a competitive college.
The moral of this story is as follows: Remember that colleges are businesses. They accept students based on their own needs, not the student's. If you're not 100% sure of your financial status, don't give them 100% assurance that you'll attend, because it will backfire. On top of that, Affirmative Action isn't just based on the color of your skin, but your financial status, something many colleges without billion-dollar endowments are forced to consider more heavily.
In addition, don't go through the college admissions process blind! What sounds like a great idea - taking advantage of the higher acceptance rates that early applications give - can work against you if you don't consider all the factors carefully. That's why you should contact us and check out our College Coaching programs before you plan to submit anything. Otherwise, we might not be able to help!