Early Options in College Admission Decisions

While rising seniors will hopefully spend time this summer working on college admission essays, many should also spend time working on a college admission plan. There are several options available for students interested in applying to college early. The advantage to these early programs is that students will often have an admission decision by the end of December.

  • Early Decision (ED): For colleges offering ED, applications are usually due in early November, with a decision from the college by mid-December. Students may only apply to one college under ED, and if accepted, are bound to attend that college.

  • Early Decision 2 (EDII or ED2) is in place at some colleges to capture those students who didn't get into their ED schools (or who missed the ED deadline). There is often a quick turn-around between the time a student gets a "no" from their ED college and the deadline to apply to an EDII school. Just like ED, students must attend the EDII school if accepted.

  • Early Action (EA) has an early deadline like ED, but students can apply EA to multiple colleges. While applicants find out the college's decision early (usually by the end of December), the student has until May 1 to inform the college of their decision.

  • Early Action 2 (EAII or EA2 or Early Action Round 2) generally has a later application deadline than ED or EA. Students hear back from the college earlier, but have until May 1 to inform the college of their decision.

  • Restrictive Early Action (REA) or Single Choice Early Action offers all the benefits of EA, but applicants are not permitted to apply to other colleges early.

There are benefits to these programs, but it is important to "read the fine print" to make sure the pros and cons are carefully weighed before submitting an application early. As always, the most important part of applying to colleges is making sure that the school is a good fit.