The Early Bird...
I recently received a letter inviting me to apply to YLS (thank you!). However, I've applied early decision at another school, from which I have not yet heard. Should I still apply to Yale?
For those readers who don't know, most early decision (ED) admission programs are programs in which you apply by an early application deadline -- say, November 15 -- and are guaranteed an admissions answer by an earlier date as well. In return, you make a commitment to attend that law school in the event you are admitted. In effect, you are making an advance enrollment commitment by applying ED to that school. (Students who are not admitted in the ED pool are generally deferred to and re-reviewed in the regular application pool.)
Generally speaking, Yale makes admissions decisions later than most schools, and almost always after the ED decision date at most schools. Further, we honor ED enrollment commitments made by applicants. So, when we receive the list of names from our peer schools of people who have been admitted ED (yes, we get this information), we automatically withdraw those applicants from further consideration. From our point of view, if an applicant has already decided that his or her first choice is another school, has been admitted to that school, and has made a commitment to attend that school, it doesn't make sense to continue to use our resources to evaluate their application.
Every year, when I review the list of people we are withdrawing from consideration, I see applicants who are doing extremely well in our process and, sometimes, applicants who have in fact received the requisite scores to be admitted but who just haven't been notified yet. I always wonder whether those students would have applied ED to another school if they knew how good of a chance they really had at getting into Yale. Of course, I'll never know, and neither will they. Sigh.
So, L.B. to answer your question, the answer is, it depends. If you really know that your ED school is where you want to go, but still want to put in applications elsewhere in the event that you are deferred to the regular pool at your ED school, go ahead. Just know that you probably won't hear back from us before your ED school and, if you do get in to that school, we'll immediately withdraw you from further consideration.
If you are now second-guessing your top choice school and want to wait to receive an answer from Yale before commiting to a school, you should contact your ED school to see whether they can defer you to the regular pool now, before they make a decision on your file. I think that most admissions committees would prefer you to be honest now rather than offer you an ED spot and then have you waffle about your commitment afterwards.
Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck. And to all of our 203 readers, Happy Thanksgiving!
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