Many colleges offer applicants the opportunity to submit an early application to receive a decision earlier in the admissions cycle. In our last blog post, we discussed Early Action, Single Choice Early Action, and Restrictive Early Action as a few of these options. However, not all colleges offer an Early Action deadline. Instead, some schools will have Early Decision. If one of your top choice colleges offers Early Decision, it’s important to be well informed so you can decide if applying under this deadline is right for you.
The most important thing to know about Early Decision is that it is a binding agreement. If you’re admitted to a college under Early Decision, you’re obligated to withdraw your other college applications and accept the offer of admission. You, your school counselor, and one of your parents or guardians will have to sign an agreement to that effect when you apply. This is a significant commitment and should not be taken lightly.
Early Decision deadlines typically occur in early to mid-November, and admissions decisions will be released by mid-December, before winter vacation. In addition, some colleges offer a second round of Early Decision in early to mid-January, with admissions decisions released around mid-February. While these are the standard timelines, you should always confirm application deadlines with every school before you apply.
If your application is denied or deferred under Early Decision, you’re then released from your binding agreement and free to apply to other colleges, and you aren’t required to withdraw your applications at other schools. If your application is deferred under Early Decision, you could still potentially be admitted during Regular Decision, in which case you don’t have to accept the offer and you don’t have to make a decision until May 1.
You can only apply Early Decision to one school since, if they take you, you must enroll. But in addition to your Early Decision application, you can submit Early Action or Rolling Admissions applications to other schools, as long as the other schools don’t have any restrictions of their own. If you’re admitted under Early Decision, though, you must withdraw those other applications and/or decline any offers of admission that have been extended to you.
Applying Early Decision (if it’s offered) is a great way to show a college that you’re highly interested in them. Many colleges will take your commitment to attend into account, but you still need to submit the strongest application you can. And if your top choice college offers Early Decision, and you feel ready to apply, you could get your admissions decision early, and possibly be done with the college application process before winter vacation.
Early Decision can be a great option, but only if you’re completely certain you want to attend that college. If you are considering Early Decision, be sure to discuss it with your parents and school counselor before submitting your application.