Is early decision important for international students?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Is early decision important for international students?

Nancy Caine
Director of College Counseling St. Augustine High School

Nancy Caine

If the student is the best he/she can be in terms of grades, test scores, awards, activities, and this is absolutely the first choice school, then applying ED can be important for international students. They must understand that this is a binding decision and they must be fairly certain their families can afford the school. In the best case situation, the student and family have already visited the school, and know all of their options. Second to that, they have an ongoing relationship with someone in the admissions office.

Jean Marie Buckley, M.Ed, MPA, CEP
President Buckley Educational Group, LLC

To apply ED or not? How do international students decide?

The decision to apply Early Decision (the binding option) is encapsulated with discussion, statistical analysis and breadth of the applicant. In our global world, students have extended their applications beyond their traditional geographic boundaries. When working with international students, the Early Decision option should and is discussed in great depth. College admission professionals review applicants in context to the development of the applicant’s class. As an applicant, a student must understand the scope of the school, the goal and mission of incorporating international students into their community and measure the objective and subjective likelihood of admission based on a variety of measures.

Susan Karasek
Guidance Counselor Estrella Foothills High School

Should I apply for early decision if I am an international student?

The answer depends greatly on each individual student. Early decision is a binding contract with your school, therefore students must be aware that if they are accepted under early decision they must attend this college. Students should talk with their counselors and parents before making this decision.

Ryan John
School Counselor Bethlehem High School

Is early decision important for international students?

Yes, early decision can be a good option even for international students. Statistically, ED applicants are accepted at a higher percentage than their regular decision counterparts. The trick for international students is to make sure they have completed their testing (i.e. SAT, ACT, TOEFL) well in advance of the ED deadline. If your testing schedule is not mapped out properly, you may run into a situation where you need to take a TOEFL exam too late, resulting in you not being able to meet the ED deadline. International students will also want to investigate the college's financial aid policies regarding ED agreements and will want to have very open discussions within their family about affordability. While insufficient financial aid packages from colleges can be the only 'opt out' option for families, the problem with this is the timing. Families will typically receive their financial aid packages in the spring (March or April) and this does not leave any time for a student to pursue other schools if they need to, being that the May 1st deadline for deposit is right around the corner.

Christopher Marty
Admissions Counselor Goucher College

Is early decision important for international students?

Here's my stab at a thorough answer, one informed by multiple perspectives... The biggest controversy surrounding Early Decision deadlines lies in the fact that ED applicants usually need to be fully aware of their ability to independently fund their college education. Most Early Decision deadlines fall well before the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filing date, so students cannot rely on the receipt of need-based financial. By signing an Early Decision Agreement, you ARE committed. However, because many institutions offer very different financial aid packages (or, occasionally, no financial aid) to interntational students, certain international students can benefit from the ED deadline (either because they know they aren't looking for financial aid, or because the FAFSA is not used in the process). Furthermore, many institutions do consider an ED applicant to be showing GREAT interest. Especially if an interntional student has not had the chance to visit campus, applying ED can be a surefire way to show interest in a school. Although it's not a good policy, an admissions officer might doubt an international student's intent to matriculate if he/she does not show this interest. Hope this helps!

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Early decision and international students;

It is not necessary to apply as an early decision student based on international or homeschool status. Only apply for early decision when you are absolutely positive that you only want to go to that school and that you have met the entry requirements. Early decision is binding and will hinder you from applying to other colleges until that institution has made its offer. Thus your status as an international or homeschooled student is not really a key factor.

Robin Farris

Early decision for International Students? Yes or No?

I feel early decision is not necessary for international students. It's binding, and at times, international students have difficulty understanding the ramifications of the binding contract. Additionally, I think some students need more time to work on different parts of the application, and with early deadlines, they may not be able to put their "best face" forward

Joseph Freeman
Dean and College Counselor Randolph School

International Students and Early Decision

For an international applicant, an Early Decision application can improve his or her chances of admission, but the applicant must be aware of certain stipulations. First, the applicant must keep in mind that an Early Decision is (in all likelihood) binding, meaning that the student must be prepared to attend that school next fall. If the school is not a clear first choice, then the student should not apply ED. Secondly, the applicant must have a good sense of cost in mind. Even "need-blind" schools are often need aware with international applicants, and financial aid can be much more challenging when a student cannot qualify for Pell Grants or Stafford Loans. If the international applicant is in a position to pay full tuition, then an ED plan can work well. If the applicant needs aid, then he or she must contact the financial aid office to see what works. Keep in mind that an applicant CAN be released from a binding Early Decision in the event of financial strain.

Allen Hill
School Counselor Antelope Union High School

Early Decision

Applying early to schools is a must because the sooner you know that the school will accept you, you can then begin finacial aid, scholarships, housing and other items that need to be done. For International students the requirements are different than for other student thus the earlier you get the decision the easier it is to start planning.

Heather McCowen
Post Secondary Counselor The Chicago HS for the Arts

Early Decision and International Students

International students can benefit from early decision as it gives them more time to secure visas and student paperwork. As with any student, the school should be a great fit for the student and the student should understand that they have the resources and interest in attending that school.