December 21, 2006
Posted by Sam Jackson
I sent my reply card back to New Haven almost as soon as I got it; there was no question that I would be going to Yale next year. It wasn't that way when I sent in my application November 1st, though. So what changed?
I would not have applied early if it had been binding, but my school strongly strongly urges us to go if we get in. We're really reminded that our early school should be our first choice school and we are more or less expected to go if we get in. This is a 'philosophy' and not a policy. Our CCO will still send out transcripts for EA admits, if they insist, but if you got into your first-choice school, why would you? This gives our college counseling office the ability to tell an Early Action school, 'psst, if you admit this kid, you can go argue at committee that they're going to come because Exeter does it such-and-such way.' Works well for everyone--more kids get into their first choice schools, schools get better yields, and more people have more chances in RD. This philosophy might also be why the percentage of our class that applied early was lower than some otherwise similar private schools.
Why then would it have made a difference if yale were EA vs. ED? Financial Aid was not the primary concern, since I'd matriculate and be poor, if nothing else. Essentially, though Yale was, as of nov 1, far and away my first choice, I wanted to retain the possibility of choice later on. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being bound to attend. Hypothetically, I thought to myself, I could still apply elsewhere even if I got in, if I really really wanted to even if I had no intention of doing so. This was because even if I really, really, wanted to go to Yale Nov 1, or even Dec 16th, might things not change by May 1?
Over the course of the 45 day wait, I grew more and more emotionally attached to Yale. This made waiting really fun. By Dec 14 I almost felt that I would have applied ED had the application deadline been right then. I was, of course, dizzy from the anxiety right after finals leading into the Dec 15th decisions--so I wouldn't exactly have called myself mentally fit to make those sorts of decisions.
Now, of course, it's Dec 21st, and I already did send back my reply card. Did all those yearnings for choices evaporate? Not at all. Instead, I 've just looked at things as a matter of probability. Certainly, it was tempting to drop all other schools just on the basis of application workloads, but that wasn't reason enough (a few of the schools, e.g. Harvard, required no new essays, and I'd already written a few). A different sort of logic was employed.
If I got in anywhere else I might apply--and I had 12 other schools on my list--would I go to any of them, over Yale? Some of the schools offered merit aid--would I have gone to any of them over Yale even if I got a full ride? The answer was, "probably not" and it was in light of that heavy lean towards "not" that I decided that I would enjoy my break and not apply anywhere else. Plus, with twelve more schools on my list, it was quite possible that I could be denying someone else admission at a school they really wanted to attend if I got in and ended up just going to Yale.
I have always felt regret that when I applied to Exeter, I applied only to Exeter and didn't so much as research or visit any other private schools, boarding or day, anywhere in the country. At the time I was told that Exeter was the best high school I could possibly attend; that was good enough reason for me. I think my time at Exeter has been valuable, but I wonder sometimes if there might be somewhere else better suited to me. There were pangs of that as I thought about sending in the Yale reply card, but I banished them away when I thought about just how many hours I've spent on the college process. Visits, research, reading, talking, questioning--everything adds up to one fact, one which says: Yale is the best school for me.
Let's just hope that's turns out to be true!