Ask An Expert: Tips for Regular Decision applicants

December 03, 2014

This week, our resident expert Joie Jager-Hyman, a former Dartmouth admissions officer and Founder of College Prep 360, addresses the question:

“What are the key differences between applying ED/EA and Regular Decision applicants should keep in mind? Are there any major errors to avoid during the RD process?” 

It’s the first week of December and many seniors find themselves in a strange stage of purgatory. They are eagerly awaiting the reply from their first choice Early Decision/Early Action school(s), which will be out in the next week or two, while also stressing about all those “Why do you want to go to our college?” essay supplements they have to write for Regular Decision. With schoolwork, activities, and general college app anxiety, it’s easy to get burned out right about now.

So, some tips to keep in mind during this last stretch:

  • Make sure you have 3-4 colleges on your list that you are excited about. We all know that college admissions can be unpredictable so you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you have a few options. Options are key to sanity this time of year.
  • Don’t leave Regular Decision applications for the last minute. If it took you a month to write one application for Early Decision why are you only giving yourself a week to write eight more? Use logic. Plan ahead.
  • Keep “demonstrating interest” with your Regular Decision schools. Colleges want to be selective and, as such, they need the students they accept to enroll (otherwise they have to take more kids for each spot and they are no longer as selective). Therefore, in most cases, if they are choosing between two applicants, they will take the one who has “demonstrated interest” by visiting campus, participating in interviews, emailing with admissions staff etc. Colleges want students who are excited about their schools and likely to enroll.
  • Don’t apply to too many Regular Decision colleges. How can you do a great job on supplemental essays and demonstrate interest at 15 schools? Short answer: you really can’t, so don’t try. Keep the list reasonable and do a great job on the applications that you submit.
  • Proof read everything! The biggest mistake I saw applicants make when I worked at Dartmouth was to write, “And that is why I want to go to Brown/Cornell/Yale” in their Dartmouth applications. Yes, you are applying to lots of schools. And, it’s fine to recycle essays, if appropriate for the essay question. But make sure you do not send in an application with the wrong college name on it!

Have a question you’d like answered in a following blog post? Let us know in our Contact Us form!

Blog post: You've submitted your ED/EA application. Now what?
Blog post: You’ve submitted your ED/EA application. Now what?





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Northwestern ‘18


Accepted to Northwestern, Emory, WashU, UMich

Hey everyone, I'm a current Northwestern student (Class of 2018, although I may finish up a little early) and I absolutely love it! Admissions really is a tough time, so try to keep your head up and don't be afraid to take chances.
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