Seniors work to make quarter 1 count

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Books strewn haphazardly across tables, frazzled students line the halls, scrambling to meet their deadlines. Frantic click-clacking can be heard from college counseling. One might think the world is ending. (But really, it’s just first quarter).

The first quarter, which concluded on Oct. 20, is the shortest quarter of the year and operates as a check-in point for most classes. Quarter grades are “soft”, to be amended by the end of the semester, and any blips can be made up in the final half of the year. However, for seniors applying for early decision, quarter grades carry more weight.

“The first quarter grades are very important because those are the first ones from this year that the college is going to see,” senior Drew O’Hern said.

O’Hern is applying ED to Franklin & Marshall College.

Applying ED is an option in the college admission process for students who are confident in where they want to go to school. Early decisions are binding, so if the student is accepted into their choice college, then they are essentially committed to attending there. In comparison to the regular admission process, which typically occurs in January, the deadlines for ED are much sooner, usually in November. There has been an upward trend in the number of students applying early recently.

“The last couple years it’s between about a quarter to about a third of the senior class applied early decision,” Director of College Counseling Mary Hill said.

Currently, 26% the class of 2016 is applying early decision.

Hill also clarified that senior quarter grades for ED applicants should not cause undue pressure.

“It’s an opportunity, rather than a pressure. There’s an opportunity to really show your stuff, and we find in most cases they [quarter grades] are really assets in most cases,” Hill said.

Applying early decision transfers the majority of college application stress to the first quarter, however, the heavier workload at the front end of the school year is not without benefit.

“ED has a slightly higher acceptance rate. That’s a chief reason that students consider it,” Hill said.  

Despite the increased stress in the beginning of the school year, applying early can also aid students who are interested in attending more competitive universities.

“I’ve known for a while, a couple years now, that I want to go into business undergraduate studies and the Wharton school is the top business program in the country and their acceptance rate goes up a little bit when you apply early decision,” senior Shelby Tietel said.

Tietel is applying ED to the University of Pennsylvania.

But the benefits of applying early aren’t limited to better admission rates; sometimes it improves students’ chances of making a sports team.

Senior Kathryn Bond said her decision to apply ED to Macalester was motivated “mostly [by] sports…”

“I can’t really apply regular decision if I want help from the coach so I have to apply early,” Bond said.

Even though the quarter carries more academic pressure for them, all the above seniors emphasized one thing: “Don’t focus on quarter grades at freshman year. Think of it as a semester long process. The only time not to think that way is senior year,” O’Hern said.  

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