Applying to college is an intimidating process. Applications take a lot of timing, organizing, communicating, and contemplating, and most students are doing this in addition to managing the stress of work, school, and their personal life.
Students will need each of the above elements when navigating the many tasks that go with beginning their college journey.
From deciding which application needs to be filled out to knowing the best way to complete letters of recommendation, being organized, having clear communication, and doing plenty of introspection are vital. That said, each of these is lacking if they don’t have one vital element – timing.
Timing is of particular importance if students are looking to attend a more selective university, because these schools often come with deadlines that require more consideration and risk. Of course, even if students attend a university that has a rolling deadline or a one-size-fits-all decision date, they will still need to consider timing; but stricter deadlines like Early Decision require a special kind of time management.
The Early Decision (ED) application deadline is one that requires an agreement called a “binding” decision. To agree to a binding decision means that a) a student agrees to attend the university upon acceptance and b) they withdraw any other applications they’ve sent out to other schools.
Applying this way may seem like too much of a commitment, but Early Decision applicants often have higher acceptance rates than Regular Decision applicants.
This doesn’t mean that it is easier to apply through ED, it simply means that the overall quality of applications submitted at this level of commitment are higher in general.
Regardless of Early Decision or Regular Decision, a selective university like Northwestern, which has a regular acceptance rate of 7%, requires a competitive application.
The university looks for applicants who align with the values of the university and who show an academic record that demonstrates the foundational skills to be successful.
Early Decision is all about being decisive. A student that takes the time to know their needs and a university’s wants will find that Early Decision won’t feel as intimidating as it appears.
Below is some of the basic information students will need as they consider Early Decision at Northwestern.
Northwestern Early Decision Acceptance Rate
Northwestern’s Early Decision acceptance rate is 7%, and about half of Northwestern students come in through the ED application route.
The ED acceptance rate is slightly higher than the regular decision rate, but the university lets students know that this higher rate doesn’t mean an easier path to acceptance.
Though Early Decision means that students will have to withdraw all other applications upon an offer of acceptance, and that they can’t apply for Early Decision at any other school, students can still apply for the Regular Decision deadline at other schools as a backup in case they aren’t accepted at Northwestern.
To learn more about the college’s stance on the competitive advantages of pursuing Early Decision, students should talk to university admissions counselors.
In general, ED applications are strong contenders because they often demonstrate high academic accomplishment. The Early Decision option can be approached with confidence for students who know that Northwestern is their number one pick.
To determine what a competitive applicant looks like at Northwestern, students should visit the university’s The “Fit” Factor website.
Applicants will find a list of questions to ask themselves to determine their personal “fit” factor and can use the answers they generate from this to create a more thoughtful application.
In addition, the university encourages students to check out who current students are and to start making connections. Students can do this by perusing the university’s YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook social media pages.
Northwestern Early Decision Deadline
Northwestern’s Early Decision deadline is November 1st, a full two months before the Regular Decision deadline. Early Decision is a binding decision that requires students to know without a doubt that Northwestern is the school for them.
Having a strong conviction like this can seem intimidating, but with research, seeking help from staff and students, and exploring the campus and city, students can gain full confidence that Northwestern is the perfect fit.
A few important resources can help students determine if Northwestern is the school for them and determine what they can bring to Northwestern.
One of the biggest resources students should take advantage of is the university’s admissions’ blog. By reading through the blog, applicants will find detailed information from current Northwestern students about what it takes to apply to Northwestern.
Another great resource to check out is the university’s Experience Northwestern page.
As noted above, learning about a campus and city is an important part of determining if a school is right for a student.
Northwestern offers a diverse range of campus experiences including virtual campus tours, an Indigenous campus tour, a Black student experience campus tour, and a historical campus tour.
Traveling has become more complicated since Covid-19 and Northwestern know that online access to information is an important part of the new world students are living in.
The Experience Northwestern page also has information for students to connect to online admissions counselors and attend live information sessions where they can ask staff and students questions.
Northwestern ED Decision Date
Students will hear back about Northwestern’s decision Mid-December and, if accepted, will need to submit their tuition and housing deposit by February 1st.
Tuition is a common area of concern with Early Decision because students may feel insecure that they won’t know beforehand what their financial aid package will be.
Northwestern is committed to alleviating this concern by ensuring they will cover students’ financial needs, but they do allow for an out if if a student’s financial needs cannot be met.
Suppose a student finds that the financial aid package they are offered isn’t sufficient to meet their needs, and they are unable to change it through an appeal. In that case, Northwestern will release students from the binding Early Decision agreement so they can apply elsewhere.
For students who would like to do further research into what their potential financial aid package will be, they should use the Net Price Calculator to get an approximate calculation. The university also offers a tool called MyinTuition for prospective applicants to use. This tool allows students to picture better what need-based aid they might be eligible for.
Does Northwestern Have Early Decision 2?
The short answer is no. Northwestern only offers students the chance to apply for Early Decision or Regular Decision.
For those who aren’t familiar with what Early Decision 2 is, it is usually a date that lands in between the first Early Decision deadline and the Regular Decision deadline.
It can be helpful for students who are late to the application process but who know they would like to pursue Early Decision. Like Early Decision I, Early Decision 2 is binding.
The Early Decision II is another option that students should talk to the university’s admission counselor about to determine if it offers any advantages.
Whether a student applies to Early Decision I or II, the most important thing to being a contender for acceptance will be producing a strong application.
To learn more about Early Decision 2, check out this article on whether to apply for Early Decision 2 or not.
Northwestern ED Deferral Rate
Northwestern doesn’t provide information on their ED deferral rate, but students who aren’t accepted for ED will have the possibility of being deferred to the Regular Decision instead of being denied outright.
If a student is deferred to Regular Decision, they will no longer be held to Early Decision’s binding requirement.
Students can find out their admissions status by signing into the Applicant Status Portal. Applicants can also expect to receive an email from admissions once their final decision has been made.
How to Apply to Northwestern for Early Decision
The process to apply for Early Decision is mostly the same as the Regular Decision, the only exception being the submission date and the Early Decision Agreement.
To apply to Northwestern, students will complete either the Coalition Application or the Common Application and pay or waive the $75 application fee.
In addition, students need to include the required documents: transcript(s), a school report, a counselor recommendation, and a teacher recommendation.
SAT/ACT scores have been waived for the near future at Northwestern because of covid-19, but students that apply after the 2022-2023 academic year should check with the admissions office to see if this will continue.
There is also an optional Northwestern essay that students can opt-out of but which students are highly encouraged to fill out.
Other situations requiring more documentation include students who didn’t attend a school where English was the primary language and students who apply to one of the four schools with extra application requirements.
ESL students need to show proof of English proficiency with one of several English proficiency exams. The university accepts the Duolingo English Test, the IELTS, and the TOEFL.
Students who are interested in applying to music, theater, integrated science, or mathematics schools will need to include a variety of different extra documentation with their application.