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  • Beth & Tim Manners

U.S. News: Early decision applications typically require the signature of the student, parent and counselor verifying the commitment. The agreement is not legally binding, so a college would not go after a student for tuition. But depending on the school, there can be consequences if a student doesn't accept an offer.

For example, if it is discovered that a student applied early decision to two different colleges – breaking the agreement – a student risks losing both acceptances. There are exceptions, however. Some families may receive a financial aid package that's different than anticipated, making it difficult to afford the cost of attendance. At Duke, fewer than 1% of early decision applicants admitted aren't able to enroll for financial reasons.

Admissions officers understand if extenuating circumstances prevent a student from honoring their commitment, including an illness or death in the family that leads a student to defer enrolling for a semester or year, experts say. If that's the case, they advise students to reach out to the institution as soon as possible.

  • Beth & Tim Manners

The Georgetown Voice: Alongside MIT, Georgetown is one of the two top private universities that refuses to use the Common Application. This decision has stirred controversy, since some argue that Georgetown’s separate application hampers accessibility and subjects applicants to additional stress.

Charles Deacon (COL ’64), dean of Georgetown undergraduate admissions since 1972, believes that the university’s application advances a “student-centered” approach, facilitating close student-university relationships. Its idiosyncrasies include four supplemental essays with page rather than word limits, a shorter extracurricular profile than the Common App, and alumni interviews for every applicant.

In Deacon’s opinion, the Common App can’t provide the same kind of intimacy. He also sees the Common App as a tool colleges use to grow their applicant pool and therefore deflate their acceptance rates, rather than evaluate applicants accurately. Instead, he wants to prioritize recruiting exceptional students who truly fit the community, and he believes Georgetown’s specific application is critical to that aim. According to Deacon, the separate application is itself an indicator of “demonstrated interest.”

To Aaron Chan (SFS ’26), the application makes the process more confusing without improving the quality of the student body. “The Common App’s user interface is a lot easier to navigate and a lot more direct than Georgetown’s,” Chan said. “Georgetown’s looks like it was made in the 2000s and never updated.”

Once students submit their applications, four admissions officers each assign an application a score on a 10-point scale, adding up to 40 points. Applicants who receive eights or higher across the board stand a high chance of being admitted. After all applications have been scored, the officers begin admitting the highest scorers until no spots are left.

According to Georgetown’s Common Data Set (CDS), a yearly report on the university’s admissions trends and policies, academic performance is given the most weight when scoring an application. Extracurriculars and the interview follow close behind, while factors such as first-generation status, legacy affiliation, and ethnicity fall into the lowest-weight category.

  • Beth & Tim Manners

Associated Press: Scores on the ACT college admissions test by this year's high school graduates hit their lowest point in more than 30 years — the latest evidence of the enormity of learning disruption during the pandemic. The class of 2022's average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36, marking the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20.

What's more, an increasing number of high school students failed to meet any of the subject-area benchmarks set by the ACT — showing a decline in preparedness for college-level coursework.

The test scores show 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 met none of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science and math, which are indicators of how well students are expected to perform in corresponding college courses. In comparison, 38% of test takers in 2021 failed to meet any of the benchmarks.

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