Is early decision important for international students?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Is early decision important for international students?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Early Decision for International Students

I checked the latest information from many top schools related to early decision for international students. Apparently, some colleges had restricted this in the past because of concerns about understanding the legality of the binding process. This is no longer the case. International students requiring aid should be cautious about applying early. Like U.S. students, they will not have a basis for comparing packages if they only use the early decision (versus early action) option. Also, international students required to submit tests such as TOEFL have to be careful to adhere to all deadlines and have all documentation in on time. That said, international students should only apply early if the college is really their first choice. If they do not require aid, statistics may bear out the early application.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Early Decision and International Students

I advise students to apply for ED if they have a dream school, are strong within the applicant pool, are positive that this is the school they will attend no matter what and for whom need based aid is not a consideration. Since most international students do not qualify for U.S. government based aid based on financial aid this makes it less of a consideration regarding ED. Therefore if international students fit the other criteria, it may be to their advantage to apply ED. Certain schools select a large number of their applicants ED. Francine Schwartz Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

How highly selective is the school?

If the school is the primary choice for the student and boasts as highly selective admission rate then yes, more and more students are securing their spot for Fall's Freshman class this way. It also helps to eliminate less travel for international students when they have already made their choice.

Cheri Barad
Education Consultant Barad Education Consulting

To ED or not to ED

It should not matter whether you are an international student or domestic, you should only apply ED if you are certain the school is your first choice and you will be happy attending for the four/five years of your undergraduate education. Have you visited? Felt the vibe of the campus and area surrounding the school? Done your homework regarding majors/quality of life? Most international students are required to fill out the Declaration of Finances so the financial aid issue, as with some domestic students, is not as pertinent.

Steve Peifer
Director of College Guidance Rift Valley Academy

ED for an International Student

ED is a good option if: 1. You absolutely have a favorite school 2. Financial Aid is not a huge factor 3. You are realistically in academic range of the school If you can honestly answer yes to these, it is a good option. If you can't, then I'm not sure I see the benefit but I certainly see the downside.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Early Decision for International Students

Just as for all students, Early Decision can be important if a student is absolutely certain that the Early Decision choice is his/her first choice. If not, students should plan to apply Regular Decision. There is no real difference in this regard between International and Domestic applicants

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Is early decision important for international students?

Each school will have their own guidelines for international students who wish to apply for early decision. Some schools do not permit students to apply for early decision. Other schools only permit students who do not wish to apply for financial aid to apply for early decision. When a student is applying for early decision they need to be sure that the school they are selecting is a good fit for them. All early decision acceptances are binding. Students need to be aware of this admissions policy. The best way for a student and school to know if they are a good match is by visiting the campus. When students visit campus they show a demonstrated interest in the school and are able to attest to their knowledge that that school is both their top choice and a good fit.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Apply early, but it's not necessary to apply under a binding program

Applying to a US institution as an international student requires a nuanced review of credentials. Because of unique admission considerations, deadlines for international students are often earlier than for domestic students. If a school does not have a separate deadline for international applicants, it behooves students in this situation to apply in advance of published deadlines. Visa eligibility, review of foreign credentials, and verification of finances will prolong the process for international students. The binding aspect of Early Decision programs should not impact international students differently than domestic students. At some institutions, early decision presents a slightly better likelihood of earning admission. However, students should carefully consider this contractually binding choice: it is only the right fit for some.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Is early decision important for international students?

Early Decision is important for all students. That said, the student must be applying early to the college because he/she feels that college is the best match. Colleges that offer ED do so because it offers many benefits for them: they get students who want their college, they can be more selective in the regular round because they already know they have a certain percentage of their class (often 27%-39%), and it helps spread out their applications over a longer period of time. Most colleges will be a little more lenient during ED than they are in the larger regular pool, so it can help a student gain admission. Even if a student is not admitted early, the fact that the student applied early can help a bit when the college reviews the application again (though the student is no longer bound to the ED agreement). A student should NOT apply ED just to "get it over with." Invetibaly, when a student applies ED for the wrong reasons, it ends up to be a poor match.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

Time Is Ticking....

The International student is racing against the clock! By applying Early Decision to the college of their choice, they will manage to optimize the time frame to complete application for student visas, residency options and provide themselves with details regarding financial assistance as early as possible.