E2 Talk – Interview E2 Alumni: How should you develop a college list?

Developing a college list is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating steps on preparing for studying abroad.  When it comes to Early Action/Early Decision, it’s even more confusing.  In this video, Johnny, who is currently studying at Northwestern University, will share his secrets on building a college list, specifically:

  • What are the differences between Early Action and Early Decision?
  • How do you decide which schools to apply to for Early Action or Early Decision?

Below is our interview and a transcript that has been edited for clarity.

Tony:  Some of the parents here and some of our students may not really know the differences between Early Action and Early Decision.  Can you talk about what Early Action/Early Decision is and how you decided which one to go for?

Johnny:  Of course!  So Early Decision is mostly a November 1st deadline.  It is about 2 months before you apply to the regular pool.  Basically, Early Decision means that you tell the admission officers how much you want to get into that school.  And if they give you an offer, you are obligated to take that offer. Personally, I really like Northwestern. It is my absolute favorite school, so that was where I put my Early Decision application.

Early Action is sort of simpler, but you’re not obligated to go to that school if they give you an offer.  You’re just putting your application in there early so that they have a chance to read your application before more and more applications come in.  And regular is simply a Regular Decision.

Therefore, on deciding which schools to apply to for Early Action/Early Decision, you should take your personal interest as well as your admissions chances into account.

Tony:  So tell me about the schools that you applied to for Early Action or Early Decision, and how you chose those.

Johnny:  I just start with my absolute and still favorite choice, Northwestern.  I felt lucky to be given the opportunity to do the college tour in the summer before my senior year in high school.  I had a chance to go to information sessions and talk to students from 13 different colleges. It was quite eye-opening.  Just from my conversations with Northwestern students, I had a feeling that they were very professional and passionate. They worked hard and played hard.  That’s exactly the type of people I would like to be around. Additionally, Northwestern provides a very liberal academic program. And the architecture there was also very beautiful.  That’s why I picked Northwestern.

On the other hand, I looked into similar schools that had a similar environment to Northwestern.  Those were very good options as well. I really liked the city of Chicago, so I applied to the University of Chicago.  The other schools that I reached out to were Boston UniversityNortheastern University, and Boston College.  Those are relatively easier options to get in.

Tony:  In terms of the college process, I always talk a lot about how schools are actually very different from one another.  Those differences determine a lot about what your day-to-day life becomes and who you hang out with. Those things are very important to consider.

You mentioned a lot how your friends at Northwestern worked hard and played hard.  I don’t know if you have ever heard this: “You become the average of your five closest friends.”

Johnny:  Yes, I have heard that before.

Tony:  So if you’re spending time with your five closest friends in a different kind of environment, they all work hard and play hard, you can have a very different experience in Northwestern community.  As a matter of fact, people don’t usually consider those things. However, I believe that they are definitely important.

The type of activities you want to do is super important too.  By virtue of you being a tutor to those athletes, you’re spending a lot of time around some really cool people who you probably wouldn’t hang out with that much normally.  And then same thing on soccer. You now have this extra interest where you’re going to meet people who are passionate about lots of different topics. And your common interest just happens to be soccer.

And how many schools did you apply to in total?

Johnny:  I applied to five schools in the November Early Action process.  And I also had plans to apply to other ten to fifteen schools if I didn’t end up getting into Northwestern or any of the schools that I really liked for Early Action.

To be continued…


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