Confused about all the various types of admissions deadlines? Read on…
Exploring Admissions Deadlines
The colleges you’re considering will either accept applications on a rolling basis, or will have a specified deadline or deadlines under which you can apply. It can be confusing when you’re juggling multiple timelines, so let’s consider each deadline:
Early Decision 1 (ED 1) – This is a binding application deadline. This means that if a student is offered admission after applying ED 1, he must attend that institution (as long as financial aid is adequate). You can only apply to one school ED 1, and it should be your first-choice. If admitted to an ED 1 school, you should withdraw your application from all other schools. The deadline for ED 1 schools is typically around November 1 and the admit rate for ED 1 students is usually much higher than the general population. Because more and more highly competitive schools are filling large percentages of their class under Early Decision plans, there is typically a substantial competitive advantage to applying under this kind of binding program.
Early Decision 2 (ED 2) – This is essentially the same as ED 1, except that the deadline typically falls around January 1. This is like a second chance to go to a top pick if ED 1 doesn’t work out. The same rules apply with being obligated to attend if admitted, and with withdrawing applications to other schools.
Restrictive Early Action/Single Choice Early Action – This deadline is a non-binding, but like ED limits the other schools to which you can apply. If applying Restrictive Early Action, you may not apply to any other private schools EA or ED, but may still apply under Regular Decision deadlines. This is a relatively new type of deadline and has the fewest benefits. It’s also worth noting that some Restrictive schools share lists of admitted students with other Restrictive institutions. If a student is found to have applied to other schools under one of the restricted deadlines, admission may be rescinded. There are a few other considerations, and Stanford does a great job of explaining them.
Early Action (EA) – This is a non-binding deadline that typically falls around November 1. You are not obligated to attend if admitted and can apply to other schools throughout the process. Early action offers a lot of flexibility; at some schools, it also has the added benefit of having a higher than average admit rate.
Regular Decision (RD) – This is a non-binding deadline that offers the greatest amount of flexibility outside of a Rolling Basis. Students can apply anywhere else they like under any other deadline. The downside is that RD typically has a lower admit rate, and the shortest amount of time to make a decision about attending if admitted. RD applicants typically apply in January of the senior year and hear in late March. With the national deposit deadline being May 1, that’s only a few short weeks to work with financial aid, make a visit and decide if the school is right for you.
Rolling Basis – Some schools don’t have a specific deadline and will accept applications on an ongoing basis. It’s really up to you when you hit submit! However, the sooner you apply, the easier it is to gain admission. You’ll typically find this is the case with the Transfer Student process.
You can see there are a lot of options to consider. Make sure to thoroughly research the colleges you’re considering to see what deadlines they offer, and discuss the pros and cons of each with a trusted adult or counselor. I am always happy to help provide input!