I am sometimes asked if I recommend early decision applications to BS/MD programs. Generally the answer is no but it can depend on the particular student.
With early decision you apply to a college earlier than normal and agree that if the college admits you, you will attend that college. Academically strong students will often be advised to apply to a college early decision because most colleges will admit a higher percentage of students early decision than they admit regular decision. Students like this increased chance of attending a highly selective college.
Colleges like early decision because with students applying early and committing to attend if accepted, the colleges can lock in a number of students to their class. At many highly selective colleges a large percent of the class, often close to 50%, is determined before the regular applications are even due.
So why don’t I typically recommend early decision for my students? There are several reasons. First, most BS/MD programs do not have an early decision option. Brown University, Rice University and Case Western Reserve University are a few programs that allow early decision applications but they are in the minority. Which means that you may be giving up some great BS/MD options if you just look at colleges that have early decision for their BS/MD programs.
Second, even if you are admitted to the undergraduate college early decision, with Rice and Case you don’t know until April whether you have been accepted to the BS/MD program. But, regardless of whether you are admitted to their respective BS/MD program, you are going to that college. Brown does allow students to apply early decision to PLME. If admitted to Brown and PLME early , you are committed to attend Brown and PLME. That doesn’t sound so bad. But, you might also be admitted to Brown but not admitted early to PLME. And even if you find out in April that you are not admitted to PLME, you are still committed to attending Brown.
Brown, Rice and Case are all great schools but if you’re heart is set on a BS/MD program, you are taking a big risk in applying early decision to these colleges. The other issue to understand, at least with regard to Brown, is that the early decision acceptance rate for PLME is often LOWER than the acceptance rate for regular decision PLME.
I do sometimes have a student who really loves one of the schools with an early decision option and is willing to take the risk of not getting into a BS/MD program if they get into the college in question. For that kind of student, early decision might make sense. But for my typical student, who really wants to get into a BS/MD program if possible, early decision is not the way to go.