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You’ve Submitted Your Early Decision Application – Now What?

Early decision application deadlines around the land are fast approaching. November 1, November 15 (our deadline), whatever the deadline of the school you are applying early to is, you know well that the clock is ticking! We make our admissions decisions on a rolling basis and have been reviewing applications for months now. Practically speaking, what that means is we already have over 100 students admitted for the class of 2019! It also means that the 30+ applications stacked to the left of me are not going to review themselves. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

Whether schools are making rolling decisions or not, most seek to have all letters out to applicants before the winter holiday. The bulk of our review here at Wake Forest will indeed take place in November and the first few weeks of December. Once you submit your application, we encourage you to track your application status on your Window to Wake Forest page. Give us a week or so after submitting before checking, however – we do a handful of manual processes here which require some extra steps (as I’ve noted before, we still read paper applications!). In terms of your chances of being admitted, it does not matter when your application becomes complete. There is no advantage at all to being read early or late in our process.

We all know that Tom Petty was correct when he sang “The Waiting is the Hardest Part.” Anxiety is naturally high this time of year. You may still have regular decision or scholarship applications to work on. For many, the first semester of the senior year will come to a close in December (meaning final exams). Looking forward, I am sure it is easy to dream of your final months of high school with less work to do than is the case now. Senioritis, senior slack, whatever you call it, it’s natural to want to catch some and enjoy the symptoms that come with it. Thus, you may find yourself thinking, “Calc is just so hard. I was admitted ED to Totally Awesome University. I’m going to drop it and add a free period.” Or, “There is no way I am taking the AP English Lit exam. I know I’ll bomb it. I’m just going to drop down into regular English. Favorite State College won’t care.”

Take my advice. Don’t do it. Don’t call the school that admitted you and ask if you can drop AP Physics or H European History or any class at all. If you call or email us and ask if you can alter your schedule, we are going  to say “No.” Our policy at Wake Forest is simple – changes to your curriculum constitute a material change to your application and will result in a re-evaluation of the admission decision. In other words, you will put into jeopardy your admission if you change your schedule. If you change your schedule anyway and we find out later in the year when reviewing final transcripts, well, suffice to say that would not be a good thing.

I had a terrific conversation with the counselor of an admitted applicant earlier this week on this issue. The student, a fine one whom I cannot wait to welcome next August, wanted to drop AP Spanish Language. The counselor told me that the student enjoys the class but that the challenge of the material is significant. That said, she was apparently on track to likely earn a B, perhaps even (gasp!) a B-. Now, don’t take this as license to do poor work, but I assure you we are much more interested in knowing you are still invested in learning difficult material than whether or not you earn your first B-!

My guess is that other colleges and universities have similar policies in place. Being admitted early decision is not license to lighten your academic load nor does our call for rigor and challenge in your curriculum soften. When you get the good news, rejoice! After the celebrating is done, look forward to what remains of your senior year as an opportunity to read, write, discuss, learn, and grow, for your own good now and for the good of your life going forward.