Undergraduate Admission Blog

Follow the Official USC Undergraduate Admission Blog for information, advice, and a behind-the-scenes look at our process

January 5, 2017

GUEST BLOG: Why Don’t You Have Early Decision or Early Action?

We originally posted this blog in December of 2014.  While not new, it’s still quite relevant.  We receive questions about our early decision/early action policy (or rather lack there of) on a regular basis.  Here’s a post from our Director of Admission, Kirk Brennan, where he explains USC’s position on the matter.

We get this question a lot.  We have an early deadline, December 1 for merit scholarship consideration, but we don’t have Early Action or Early Decision. Some students ask this question because they want to demonstrate USC is their number one choice, others to lock in a decision early.  We’ve considered it, but ultimately decided against the practice.  Why?  Well, we don’t think Early Decision/Action programs promote a healthy search for a college.  We think a good search for a college should be careful and deliberate, not rushed, and that early programs generally cause students to make this big decision too soon.  So our policy is based on the principle of keeping the student’s best interest in mind.

Students:  you will grow so much during your senior year!  You are likely looking ahead to your future, on the verge of so much change, evolving in ways you cannot see.  You are becoming more independent, will perhaps experience significant life-changing events– that final football game, a breakup with a longtime boy- or girlfriend, a church retreat, a trip abroad with the family, or a big senior-year project.  Completing so many college applications has likely prompted you to ask questions about yourself you hadn’t pondered before. Your opinions about what you need in a school are liable to change, and I think it would be a shame to rule out any opportunity too early.

From my perspective, ED/EA programs are tools for a college to manage their enrollment numbers.  We administrators need to enroll the right number of students, and it is to our advantage to know this information as soon as possible.  But that’s not a student-centered need, so we chose to sacrifice that advantage.  I appreciate that we ask you students to exercise a great deal of patience as we review so many applications.  In turn I hope you take the time to dig deeply, to truly discover which schools are great for you, then when you get accepted, to compare financial aid and scholarship awards from as many schools as possible.  When April comes, you’ll feel exhilarated when you finally decide.  To us that seems worth the wait.

[Here’s some background reading: Early Decision wiki, Early Action wiki, and “The Early-Decision Racket”, The Atlantic, Sept 2001.]