Three seniors share their experiences applying Early Decision. 


The news came on Dec. 11, 2020. After weeks of anticipation, UAHS senior Hayden Jay had been accepted to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (commonly known as Virginia Tech). For Jay, the news had been years in the making.

“Virginia Tech started talking to me around the beginning of last year and they really introduced me to their [swimming] program,” Jay said. “And I was also very impressed with their academic programs, that they really fit my interests. [Virginia Tech] eventually became my top pick school around summertime last year, 2020, and I eventually committed to swim there.” 

Jay began swimming competitively 12 years ago and knew that his desire to continue would be important in the college application process.

“I really wanted to swim, I knew that was one big factor in where I chose to apply. It’s really swimming and academics [that] were probably equally taken into account,” Jay said. 

In addition to committing to Virginia Tech’s swim team, Jay decided to apply Early Decision to the College of Architectural and Urban Studies. 

“I really chose Early Decision because I really knew Virginia Tech was already the place for me, swimming—wise and academic—wise. I think they offered the program I was really interested in, which was industrial design. And I really wanted to show my eagerness to be accepted into Virginia Tech,” Jay said. 

Although not a sports commit, senior Alain Welliver also applied Early Decision. He was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) class of 2025. While academics, specifically the computer science program, were a large part of his decision, Welliver cites the location and social balance as his primary determining factors. 

“UPenn is called the ‘social ivy’ for a reason,” said Welliver. “There’s a good social and academic balance.”

Additionally, Welliver lived near Philadelphia for seven years and still has family in the area. 

Senior Juliann Mattis also applied and was accepted Early Decision to Carnegie Mellon University. Mattis’ primary considerations were the possible academic and career opportunities. 

“I was really looking for programs, I was looking for schools that had a lot of internships and high job outcomes,” Mattis said. “I was looking for certain majors, so creative writing was a major I was looking at, and then biology as well.”

Mattis, like Welliver and Jay, began the process by extensively researching schools. 

“First, there was choosing the college because there were a couple colleges I was looking into, for which one I should do early decision. Because I kind of made up my mind early, I wanted to do early decision, so I could have a higher chance to get in, because I knew I was applying for competitive schools,” Mattis said. “And then from there, I think it was a matter of what are the programs, what am I going to get out of this school, of course money.”

Mattis advises any current juniors considering applying ED to “go for it.”

“If there’s a school you really like and really, really want to go to, and even if things are kind of weird with money or you aren’t sure, I would say go for it, because you might get in and it might just be really nice. And then the rest of the year you can spend looking at scholarships or looking at other things like that,” Mattis said. She also recommends putting a heavy emphasis on supplemental essays.

“When you’re looking at the school, there’s always that ‘why’ question, so make sure to be specific with that ‘why’ question about the school you’re attending, with the programs that you would like to go there,” Mattis said. 

For possible sports commits, Jay recommends forming a strong bond with the recruiting coaches. 

“I would definitely really get a good relationship with whoever is recruiting you. In my experience, schools with, or at least teams with coaches who really took the initiative to reach out, I think those really stood out more to me than schools that were more reclusive,” Jay said. “You really have to advocate for yourself. If you know you have a school you really want to apply to, or are really looking strongly at, you really have to go out of your own way and not expect coaches to come to you.”