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When Just Getting In Isn’t Enough: The Implications of Not Retracting Applications Post Early Decision

There’s a 17-year-old boy who gets rejected from his dream school. The next weeks stretch out as he slaves over applications.

But then there is another 17-year-old boy. This one did get into his early decision school—perfect, he’s done. But instead of clearing his application slate, as he’s supposedly agreed to do, he decides to keep his apps pending, curious to see what other schools he could have gotten into. Brown? Princeton? UVA?

What he may not get is that he’s hurting students who apply to schools regular decision, still facing face the stress and work of applications and second quarter grades. An anonymous senior who did not apply early decision expressed frustration.

“I understand the delight one has when getting into their early decision school, and of course I doubt one’s first thought would be to retract all their other applications,” the student said. “However, they need to understand that they are hurting their friends when they outright don’t retract, or procrastinate.”

Early decision applications play a major role in determining college admittance. According to the New York Time’s education blog, The Choice, up to half of a college’s incoming freshman class is students accepted early decision.

But when students apply to school early decision, they, along with their parents and guidance counselors, must sign a binding agreement from the Common App.

This agreement states in bold , “If you are accepted under an Early Decision plan, you must promptly withdraw the applications submitted to other colleges and universities and make no additional applications to any other university in any country.”

But some students don’t.

Elaine Schwartz, Director of Guidance at Staples, says that it is completely in students’ hands to retract their other applications.

Guidance frequently reminds students of the agreement they signed, Schwartz said, “but we don’t know how many actually do so.”

According to Schwartz, retracting applications is essential because otherwise students are occupying spots at a college that they have no intention or ability to attend. Though Schwartz said that she has never heard of students facing, she believes there is a moral issue.

“Students must remember to be sensitive to other students who want the spot they are taking away; they must remember the position these students are in,” she said.

Aaron Liu ’12, as a student who was not accepted to his early decision school, can attest to this disappointing situation.

“Not getting in is tough. Especially because you see so many other people getting in. You just have to regroup,” he said.

Though some students might fail to retract their applications because they are unaware of the impact of doing such, others intentionally don’t retract. “Students are curious to find out if they would have gotten into the other schools they applied to,” Schwartz said.

Kenzie Roof ’12 has strong feelings about attitudes like these.

“It’s not fair,” Roof said. “If you get into your ED school, you don’t need to hear back from anywhere else because it doesn’t matter at that point.”

There is one legitimate reason for not retracting these applications. Students still waiting to hear about financial aid may need to hold off until they hear about any awards of aid they may receive.



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