“I find early action better because you’re done”: Early action, decision appeal to some seniors

By: Elena Paces-Wiles and Lana McIlvaine

Acceptance letters are rolling in for the class of 2023. Many seniors will wait until March, April or even May to know where they’ll go to school in the fall. But those who utilized early decision or early action may already have their plans set. 

Myles Ettu, Ana Ruiz and Elliot DeWire (left to right) pose in their college merch. All three seniors applied to college early. Photo by Tate Gasch

Throughout all of high school, Elliot DeWire dreamed of attending the University of Pennsylvania. Because it was his top choice, DeWire decided to apply early decision. In December, he found out that he got in.

Early decision is the process of applying early to a school, where a student must attend if accepted. Because it is binding, a student may only apply to one school through early decision.

“[Applying early] puts you in a smaller pool of applicants, so it can help your admission chances,” DeWire said. “The only difference is obviously that if you get into an early decision school you have to go, whereas early action is not binding.” 

He has a 4.71 GPA and was a part of many extracurriculars at Riverside including soccer, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and Spanish Interactive Club. But according to DeWire, getting into his dream school took a lot more than that.

 “A lot of it I think is just kind of putting your head down and doing work when you don’t want to,” he said.

The people he surrounded himself with were instrumental in his success. 

“It can be helpful to have a relationship with teachers so that you can have that as a backup and you can properly communicate your needs with them,” DeWire said. “It helps to have other individuals that are also on an academic pathway around you so you can work together.” 

Others, like senior Myles Ettu, weren’t ready to commit until they heard from other schools.

“I didn’t do early decision for Cornell because I wanted to keep my options open,” Ettu said. 

So he applied early action to all schools that offered it. That way he could wait and see where he got in before committing to one school. 

Early action is the non-binding process of applying early to colleges. Students can find out sooner whether they are accepted or not, but they are not required to attend the school if they get in. 

Because early action applicants are typically a smaller pool of more qualified applicants, the percentage of admission is often higher.

“School-wise, early action makes you look better. It makes it look like you want to go there more,” Ettu said. “But personally, I find early action better because you’re done.”

Ettu has a GPA of 4.33, played varsity lacrosse, and is a member of the Red Cross club. He also worked as a lifeguard at Duke.The strong grades, extracurriculars and leadership opportunities many colleges look for during the application process keeps students busy. Completing applications for many different schools adds even more to their busy schedules. 

“It was really hard,” senior Ana Ruiz said. “Especially because I was writing supplementals for more than 40 schools. But I had support, so it wasn’t too hard.”

As a soccer and lacrosse athlete, member of science olympiad, Animal Protection Society volunteer, and founder of Spanish Interactive club, Ruiz worked hard throughout high school.

“I just stayed up really late doing homework and went to office hours. Or I would go to my classes during Smart Lunch if I was behind or if I didn’t understand anything,” she said.

All the late nights are finally paying off.

“I cried way too much because USC’s acceptance rate for Early Action was 6%, so I was not expecting to get in at all,” Ruiz said. “So when I opened it and I saw congratulations, I started crying.”

Others are hesitant to apply early.

Senior Michael Setji has a 4.37 GPA and is at the top of his class. He has been a varsity pitcher on the baseball team since freshman year and is a member of the engineering club. 

Despite his hard work, Setji sacrificed a chance to attend his top choice early and opted instead for the increased acceptance rate of early decision. 

“Stanford was my dream school but I didn’t apply because I applied to Duke for early decision,” Setji said.

Whether they chose to apply early action, decision, or neither, these seniors all agree it’s important to start early.

“I’m talking June or July,” Ruiz said. “There’s no such thing as too early because you do need a lot of help to check that everything’s right and get help from counselors or your teachers.” 

Ettu agrees. 

“I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to get everything together,” he said. “I know starting in summer is a tough ask but you should have a general idea of what your essay is gonna be on by about late August or September. You should know what you want to do by then because then you can get it out early.”

College acceptances aren’t easy but there are a few strategies that can lessen the burden.

“My main thing was that I wrote more than I needed to at the beginning and then I had the chance to narrow all that information down into a more compact but still meaningful essay,” Setji said.

“Just kind of put your head down and do it, because at the end of the day, it’s just what you got to do. Everybody’s in the same boat,” DeWire said.

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