As you prepare for the med school application process, you may be wondering whether applying Early Decision (ED) is appropriate for you.
The (frustrating) answer is, “It depends.” Schools with ED programs usually consider only the strongest candidates for ED; scores and grades which are acceptable for regular applicants won’t cut it.
There’s some risk involved in ED, too. ED applicants may not apply to other schools until either (1) they are rejected for ED; or (2) October 1 passes with no word from the school. Although early October is technically not too late to begin the application process at other schools, it’s far from ideal. This was somewhat less problematic when the MCAT was offered only in April and August and the August scores weren’t released until late September/early October. Now, with many more MCAT administrations, applicants have the opportunity to take the test twice if necessary and still have their applications completed before October.
If you believe you have the “numbers” for ED and want to give it a try, a state school in your home state is a better bet than a private school. You’ll have an advantage because state schools are eager to attract top-notch state residents, and it may be that the public schools in your state are losing strong candidates to the big-name institutions.
To make the best-informed decision possible, contact the admissions office at your ED school to discuss your qualifications. No one will tell you that you’re sure to be accepted, but you should learn whether applying ED is or is not appropriate for you.
By Joan Davis, who served for 18 years as a pre-medical adviser at the University of Rochester.