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UChicago Goes ED: What This Means for Your Application

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The University of Chicago, which was recently ranked the #3 school in the United States by the renowned US News and World Report college rankings, has for the first time implemented Early Decision I and Early Decision II application plans for the 2016-2017 applications cycle.


In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What exactly ED I and ED II are
  • Early Decision vs Early Action and their differences
  • What this new development means for your chances at being admitted to UChicago


What is Early Decision?


Early Decision is an application plan in which students can apply in advance of the regular deadline and receive their admissions decision in mid-December (for ED I applicants) or mid-February (for ED II applicants). All ED applicants enter into a binding agreement with the University that they will definitely  attend if they are admitted. Students who are admitted in either of the Early Decision rounds must withdraw all other applications and send in an enrollment deposit of $250 by January 15 (for ED I) or March 15 (for ED II).


What’s the Difference Between Early Decision I and II?


While both ED I and ED II are similar in that they constitute binding agreements to attend UChicago if admitted, the timelines they follow differ. ED I applications are due November 1st, and as such require applicants to prepare all their application materials, including essays, financial aid materials, and the application itself, well in advance of typical deadlines (which, for many of UChicago’s peer schools, are in late December and early January). Students are notified of their admissions decision in mid-December, at which point they may be admitted, denied, or deferred for consideration with the Regular Decision pool.


The ED II timeline, on the other hand, more closely resembles that of Regular Decision. Applications are due January 1st (the same as the Regular Decision deadline) and applicants are notified of their admissions decision in mid-February.


How is Early Decision Different from Early Action?


Early Decision I and Early Decision II may have different deadlines, but they both offer students who are sure that UChicago is their first choice school to receive their admissions decision in advance of other applicants. Early Action also allows for students to receive their admissions decision early, but differs from both Early Decision plans in that it does not require students to attend UChicago if admitted. Previously, UChicago only allowed students applying early to apply Early Action; as stated previously, this year marks the first year the university is offering ED I and ED II options, in addition to Early Action.


Which Plan Should I Apply Under?


Each application plan – Early Action, Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision – has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll go over below.


Application Plan Pros Cons
ED I Higher acceptance rates, demonstrates strong interest in UChicago, simplifies the college application process, receive admissions decision in December Doesn’t allow you to compare schools or financial aid packages, application materials need to be prepared far in advance
ED II Higher acceptance rates, demonstrates strong interest in UChicago, don’t have to prepare application materials so far in advance, receive admissions decision in February Doesn’t allow you to compare schools or financial aid packages, application materials need to be prepared far in advance, you may end up spending time/money on applications you’ll need to withdraw anyway
EA Higher acceptance rates, demonstrates interest in UChicago, allows you to compare schools/financial aid packages, receive admissions decision in December Application materials need to be prepared far in advance, may not confer as strong of a statistical advantage as ED


Early Action


Early action is great in that you get the best of both worlds: the early response and relief of applying early, with the flexibility of a regular decision plan. Because you are not obligated to attend if admitted, you can compare student life, academics, and financial aid packages from multiple schools, and ultimately make the most educated choice regarding your college career.


While applying early confers a significant statistical advantage upon applicants (UChicago has not released exact acceptance rates by application plan, but early action/decision acceptance rates are 5-15% higher on average for similar schools), non-binding Early Action plans do not always provide the same advantage as Early Decision plans do. Early Decision shows greater interest in and commitment to a school than Early Action, and by admitting a higher ratio of Early Decision applicants, colleges can ensure their yield rates remain high. While Early Action will give you a boost, it’s often less than that conferred upon Early Decision applicants.


In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that the students applying in the early rounds are often among the most qualified applicants – there is a significant difference in overall applicant strength between the early rounds, whose applicant pools are comprised of students dedicated and confident enough to seriously commit themselves to UChicago, and the regular rounds, which often include some stragglers who apply solely at the behest of parents or friends or who complete their applicants at the last minute. This disparity in applicant pool strength accounts somewhat for the inflated acceptance rate during early rounds, so don’t assume that simply applying early will guarantee you a higher shot at admission.


Early Decision I


If you are absolutely sure UChicago is the right school for you, and you don’t plan on comparing or leveraging financial aid packages, an Early Decision plan is probably the right choice for you. While Early Decision I will require you to prepare your application further in advance, many students find that the comfort of having your college decision finalized in mid-December makes the early deadline worth it.


If, however, you’re not 100% sure about attending UChicago, or you’d like to have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages, ED I – and ED II – are probably not the right plans for you. 


Early Decision II


Early Decision II gives applicants the statistical advantage of an Early Decision plan, without the added hassle of having to apply so far in advance. Unfortunately, applying later means you’ll get you’ll decision later, too – unlike ED I, for which an acceptance letter in December means you don’t have to submit or even finish your other applications, ED II applicants who are admitted may end up spending hundreds of dollars and countless hours applying to colleges from which they’ll have to withdraw their applications. However, if you decide the benefits outweigh the costs, applying ED II can be a great way to demonstrate strong interest in UChicago.


Since this is the first year UChicago is offering ED application plans, it’s unclear whether any real difference in acceptance rates will exist between Early Action and Early Decision applicants – though you can bet that early applicants on the whole will enjoy a higher acceptance rate than their Regular Decision counterparts. In any case, for students who are seeking a way to demonstrate their strong interest in and commitment to UChicago, this development provides a great opportunity.


If you’re interested in applying to UChicago, check out our Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of Chicago and our guide to writing UChicago’s 2016-2017 essays. With our help, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a UChicago application that will set you apart from the crowd!


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Anamaria Lopez
Managing Editor

Short Bio
Anamaria is an Economics major at Columbia University who's passionate about sharing her knowledge of admissions with students facing the applications process. When she's not writing for the CollegeVine blog, she's studying Russian literature and testing the limits of how much coffee one single person can consume in a day.