Applying Early Decision (ED) gives you the strongest chance of admission to your top choice university because space in the class is most abundant at this stage. Follow our tips to help you find your best match and prepare to apply.  

1. Do your research.

Identify which factors are most important to you in your college experience, then narrow your college list to the schools that align with your preferences.  

Consider these questions: Does the community feel like one you’ll thrive in? Can you picture yourself living and learning there? To get a sense of the learning environment, social scene, and general vibe, talk to current students and check out the university’s social media

We always recommend visiting campus if you’re able to! If not, take advantage of virtual tours and opportunities to connect with current students through online events and resources like Blue Jay Connection

2. Use your network.

If you’re having trouble selecting your top choice college, ask people you trust to help you figure it out. Talk to family members, mentors, school counselors, and friends who know you well to reflect on your options and find the best match. 

Your network may be bigger than you realize. Ask your counselor to connect you with graduates from your high school who attend the colleges you’re considering or reach out to a friend’s older sibling about their experience.  

3. Consider the finances.

Since Early Decision is a binding commitment, make sure you’ve done your financial aid research before you submit your application. Take advantage of tools like the Net Price Calculator and MyinTuition for an estimate of your college costs, and contact Student Financial Support if you have any questions along the way. 

Be careful not to fall into “sticker price shock.” The full cost of attendance does not necessarily represent what you’re expected to pay at Hopkins and many other schools that meet 100% of demonstrated need. 

4. Prepare to apply.

Early Decision is called that for a reason—it happens earlier! Start gathering your materials at the beginning of senior year (or sooner) so you’ll have time to finalize everything before the November 1 deadline. This includes identifying teachers to ask for letters of recommendation, compiling your activities list, and writing your application essays. We offer a number of interactive workshops that can help you work through these steps.

Need a little more time? Consider applying Early Decision II. 

5. Remember that everyone’s journey is different.

Try not to compare yourself to your friends and classmates—every student’s preferences and timeline will vary. The beauty of college is that you get to focus on your interests and the person you want to be. Embrace the opportunity to forge your path and make it your own!