Myths About Applying Early Decision to NYU

So you’re thinking about early decision? Here’s what you should know.

A student sitting on a rooftop’s ledge.


Are you considering applying early decision (ED)? We’re here to help you get the right information so you can make an informed choice. Odds are you’ve encountered many ED myths and misconceptions. In this article, we share a few of them and give the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) answer as well as the in-depth details you’ll need. While a lot of this information is general to the college process, some may be specific to NYU. It’s important to check with each university on their early decision policies and practices. Let’s get started on those ED myths at NYU!

NYU Abu Dhabi Library.

Myth: Senior-Year Grades Aren’t Important

TL;DR: They are. Offers of admission are conditional. NYU conducts a midyear and final review.

If you apply early decision, your senior-year grades may not be available in time for us to utilize in our decision-making. But we do require and review a midyear report as well as proof of graduation. Your admission is contingent on the successful completion of your existing academic program of study. Therefore, your senior-year grades must be comparable to the performance and rigor level presented in your application.

Myth: I Don’t Need to Abide by the Early Decision Agreement

TL;DR: You do. There are ethical implications as well as the impact on future admissions offers to consider.

There are several issues with this line of thinking. First and foremost, it is unethical. There are only so many spaces in an incoming class. If you apply early decision and are admitted, you occupy a space that another early decision student who was prepared to make the commitment can’t occupy. 

You are not the only one agreeing to abide by this commitment. Your parent or guardian as well as your college counselor also sign the agreement when you apply ED. Your actions are the collective responsibility and a reflection of these people. 

In addition to being unfair to your peers and supporters, it will harm your admission chances at another school. If you break your agreement, you can’t apply to a different school. When other universities learn of the breach, either through the Common Application or your college counselor, they may rescind your offer of admission.

Myth: Early Decision I Is Better than Early Decision II

TL;DR: They’re the same. But Early Decision II gives you more time to prepare and submit your application.

Some universities may offer multiple early deadlines. At NYU, we offer Early Decision I and Early Decision II. They operate the same. The second deadline simply gives you more time to decide if you want to apply ED. It also gives you more time to prepare your application. With Early Decision II, you may also benefit from having additional high school work to show colleges.

NYU’s early decision deadlines.

Myth: It Is Easier to Get in Through Early Decision

TL;DR: Do not assume this is true. Your application requires the same level of competitiveness and care for admission.

Though increasing in numbers, early decision applicants represent only a small portion of the total applicant pool at colleges that have ED policies. 

When applying early decision, all of the incoming-class spaces are available and there are fewer applicants to consider. By the time we begin reviewing regular decision applicants, many spaces have been filled by excited ED students. Not to mention far more students apply regular decision. So, statistically, yes, admission is more difficult as a regular decision applicant. But, that doesn’t make it easier to be admitted in early decision.

What we are looking for in an admitted student doesn’t change between early decision and regular decision. You’ll want to make sure you’re a good match with the admissions profile. You should feel confident that your academic records that are available by the deadline demonstrate your academic abilities. You will need to be prepared by the deadline to submit your strongest application. If you don’t align well with the admissions profile, applying early decision won’t add up to a higher chance of admission. 

Myth: I Shouldn’t Apply Early Decision if I Need Financial Aid

TL;DR: It depends. You need to do your research, and you should have serious financial conversations with your family.

Do not feel pressure to apply early decision if finances are a concern.

Should you be admitted, you will receive your financial aid package before you need to submit your enrollment response. However, this will only occur after you are admitted. Understandably, many students avoid committing to a school when they think they may not be able to afford it. 

While NYU will release you from the ED agreement if you truly can’t afford to attend, you should try to prevent this type of situation from happening. You can start by assessing your financial situation and having a frank discussion with your parents or guardians about finances before you apply. This will help you know what is within the realm of reason and possibility. You should also ask questions! Contact the Office of Financial Aid to learn more about your offer.

At most universities, including NYU, you will find tools to help you estimate your cost and understand how much financial aid you may be eligible to receive.

Our financial aid team is also an incredible resource for students with questions about financial aid and scholarships at NYU.

Myth: Regular Decision Financial Aid Offers Are Better

TL;DR: They’re the same. But with early decision, you can’t compare offer letters across universities.

Applying for financial aid and the way NYU determines aid are the same for early decision as they are for regular decision.

The ability to compare admissions and financial aid packages across colleges is the only thing that changes between early decision and regular decision. So make sure you do your research. This way you can find a school that not only is an academic and social match for you, but also a financial one. 

When Should You Be Excited About Applying Early Decision?

An NYU student holding an NYU teddy bear and smiling in Washington Square Park.

Ask yourself these questions if you’re considering applying early decision to NYU:

  1. Is NYU your top choice? Is it an academic, social, and financial match?
  2. Are you confident and prepared to submit your application early?
    1. This includes connecting with your school counselor and teacher(s) to ensure they understand your timeline.
  3. Are you ready to receive your admissions decisions early? Early Decision I and II applicants are notified in mid-December and mid-February, respectively.
  4. Have you had frank conversations about finances with your family?
  5. Do you feel your academic records accurately reflect who you are as student?