ED, EA, or RD? Making the most of the college application process


Albert Dai, Campus Reporter

With the passing of May 1, most students from the class of 2022 have already decided on which college they will attend next fall. 

Director of College Counseling Mr. Rousseau was pleased with the class of 2022’s wonderful results. “They worked hard and gained great success during their time at Kent, and turned out to be desirable candidates to very competitive colleges,” said Mr. Rousseau. After being admitted early into prestigious colleges including Brown, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, and Princeton, Kent seniors were later accepted by the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and many others.

As an opportunity to increase the chance of getting into some colleges, Early Decision (ED) is complicated because it is binding, requiring students to identify a college that they are comfortable with very early in the process. While Early Action (EA) is similar to Regular Decision (RD), it is useful because its results can inform students to make better decisions in the regular round. 

According to Jack Shi, who applied REA to Georgetown University, there is no consequence for EA, so he still got the chance to apply RD for better schools even if he got in. On the other hand, ED would be a great opportunity for students who have strong interests in dream schools that are not completely out of their reach. Michael Zhu, for example, applied both ED and EA. “I ED’d Brown for its Open Curriculum as it gives me more time to explore my passions and make my decision,” said Michael, who applied EA to several possible schools so he wouldn’t get stressed if he was rejected ED. According to the College Guidance Office, over 90% of Kent students applied either EA or ED.

Looking at the college application processes in recent years, Mr. Rousseau noticed that the application numbers were increasing at many schools, an underlying trend accelerated by the test-optional policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kent, too, is participating in the trend, as it doesn’t limit the number of applications a student is able to submit, focused on helping Kent students get into a college they like. While more applicants are encouraged to apply to the most competitive colleges, it inevitably results in more waitlists and rejections. 

When facing college decisions, Mr. Rousseau noted that it is important for students to trust the process and not to take them personally. Admittedly, it is hard for students who have worked extremely hard to accept this cruel fact from the college application process, which is extremely competitive and stressful by its nature. While his deferral by Georgetown was a heart-breaking moment, Jack Shi realized that it is something that he couldn’t change. After talking with some of his teachers, Jack soon recovered from the trauma and actively prepared for his regular decision, which later turned out to be a success. “It also prepared me for future failures,” Jack said. “When a bigger rejection comes later in my life, I will know how to deal with it.”

Analyzing results from past years, Mr. Rousseau encourages juniors to get energized and focus on their processes quickly. As a motivation, “the effort and energy applied now will pay off in the most significant way in the coming future.”