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ED Decisions Arrive Soon - Prepare for Success with an Alternate Plan to a Best-Fit College

December is almost here, and for many high school seniors, that means the various (and often maddeningly vague) "mid-December" dates for ED (and some EA) college decisions are fast approaching. This can certainly be a nerve-wracking time for families as they await this news. I am on my second child to apply to college via the ED round, so I am right there with you in feeling that curious mixture of nervous anticipation, excitement, and impatience.

For students who applied ED, it is particularly important to continue working on alternate plans for admission into one of their best-fit colleges. Schools that offer the ED application option are typically among the more selective institutions in the country. As such, I like to advise that students "cast a wide net" and prepare their best applications to several alternate best-fit college options. Hopefully, that means that a student has already taken advantage of applying to some schools EA by November 15, and now is the time to continue preparing applications for RD (or ED II) deadlines for some additional colleges to ensure a wide range of opportunities for a great college experience.

I have observed the panic that sets in when students choose not to heed this advice, do not work on alternate applications throughout late November and December, and then learn that they were deferred or denied to their ED school. At that point, there are often only two to three weeks left to prepare high-quality essays and applications to alternate schools, which leads to a sub-optimal path to success.

While I certainly encourage students to embark on the ED college application process with confidence and optimism, that does not preclude preparing for an alternate route to success. A deferral or denial in the ED round means a better college match may await a student - so they must be prepared to recognize and embrace it. Working on additional supplemental essays and college-specific application questions over the coming month allows for some breathing room and the added confidence that other wonderful choices will arise. Many students have shared that they ultimately gained admission to the true best-fit college for them when their ED round did not prove to be the right match.

So encourage your child to continue plugging away on developing quality essays and applications to some additional schools. Reinforce that your advice does not come from a place of not believing in their worthiness for acceptance at their ED school - there are numerous highly-qualified applicants for each space a school has in their incoming class and not every one of them will align with that college's specific institutional needs that year. Rather, share that your encouragement comes from a place of prudent planning for a different pathway to success - a good lesson for many future scenarios in life as well.

Questions or comments? As always - please leave them in comments under this edition of the newsletter, email me at, or call us at 847-363-6780. If we can be of more substantial help with charting a Clear Path Forward throughout your child's journey to their best-fit college, please reach out to us in any of the above ways or fill out our request for a complimentary 20-minute consult on the top of our website at Thank you!

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