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My Early Decision Application Experience and Tips

Ryan gives tips on the application process and shares about his experience applying to Carleton ED.

Ryan gives tips on the application process and shares about his experience applying to Carleton ED.

I was an ED applicant to Carleton! Though I was recruited to play baseball here, I still have some tips for prospective early-decision applicants out there. I’ll share some of them with you, and try to include as much about my experience ED’ing to Carleton as I can. 

What to do before applying:


Researching schools is very important when looking for the school that fits you best. I remember spending hours on Carleton’s website browsing through academic fields, the clubs they offer, how the dorms looked, and more. When conducting school research, I recommend keeping a universal document where you take notes on what each school offers, what you liked about it, and even what you didn’t love. Try to picture yourself at each school–when I imagined myself as a Carl I could see myself really enjoying my time here and thriving both athletically and academically, which impacted my decision to choose to apply ED to Carleton over other schools.


If you can, in-person visits are a great way to experience the schools firsthand. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Carleton in the September of my senior year, and because I loved my time here so much, my decision to apply early here was set. I met a bunch of awesome people, got to see what classes were like, and even experienced dorm life overnight. 

Fall is a beautiful time to visit Carleton’s campus!


When I visited Carleton, I sat in on an Argument & Inquiry (A&I) seminar and an intermediate-level computer science class. A&I seminars are classes designed for first-year students to introduce them to critical thinking, discussion, and writing at the college level. I remember more student discussion than lecturing during the class I visited, and everyone had really great ideas worth sharing. The CS class I visited was more of an independent work period for the students. They were given an assignment to complete during the class period that related to topics they had been going over, and if they struggled they could talk with the professor or each other for help.

If in-person visits aren’t feasible, virtual tours and information sessions are also great ways to learn more about the school and connect with students. I attended a couple of these for Carleton, and they helped build my knowledge of what the school offered and what life was like here. 

Talk to People!

Talking to others can be very beneficial to understand what the schools are about. For example, try to reach out to Carleton students that might have gone to your high school, or find alums that you might know and talk to them about how they like it. I was able to talk to current students about how they liked life at Carleton, and I learned a ton about day-to-day student life. Many of the baseball players I conversed with on my visit preached about the team culture and camaraderie. A friend of mine from high school told me about all the amazing people he had met in the first few weeks at Carleton. Hearing all the great things about the community and the people here boosted Carleton to the top of my list.

Application Logistics:

Application season is upon us! Carleton offers early decision and regular decision applications. If Carleton is your first choice, early decision is definitely something you should consider. ED is binding, meaning if you are accepted, you are committed to attending. However, it’s a great way to show the school demonstrated interest. Make sure to check the admissions website to note the deadlines for your application (the fall deadline is November 15, and winter deadline is January 15).

I applied early to Carleton in the fall of my senior year. The process was very straightforward but make sure you’re still paying close attention to detail. I had been working on my essays all summer, and after submitting everything, it felt like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders. I was super anxious to receive the school’s decision, but overall very excited at the possibility of attending such a great college. So even if it feels like a lot right now, stick with it! You got this. Good luck!

Ryan (he/him) is a freshman from Alameda, CA. He is currently undecided on a major but enjoys stem classes. He plays on the varsity baseball team and is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ryan loves spending his free time playing video games, listening to music, or spending time with his friends in the dining halls.