Frequently Asked Questions About Early Applications
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.
- Applying Early: The Application Process
- Financial Aid and Scholarships
- Miscellaneous Rules and Procedures
Applying early admission, usually via an early decision (ED) or early action (EA) plan, offers a lot of advantages — but it can also be a confusing topic for students. To help you better understand how the process works, we’ve rounded up some of your most pressing questions about applying early.
1. Can you apply to two ED schools in the fall?
No. One of the restrictions of ED applications is that you can only apply EA to other colleges. You can’t apply ED to other colleges.
2. Can you submit your ED II application via the Common App at the same time you’re submitting your ED I application?
You can, but there’s not really a benefit to it because your ED II application is not going to be read until after you after the deadline. So, if you have an ED II deadline of January 15th, and an ED I deadline of November 15th, you don’t get any benefit for submitting your ED II application on November 15th vs. on January 7th.
3. Since the University of California expects applications earlier than most other schools, how does that work with other ED I and EA schools?
The real impact of the UC application is how it affects other applications. Your UC applications are, by definition, regular decision (RD), and they’re public universities, so you aren’t flouting of the rules of any of the other colleges in terms of ED schools or even single-choice or restrictive early action schools.
The main impact, therefore, is really in terms of your ability to write the UC essays while also writing your Common App essay and your other essays for your early schools. If you can handle all that work at once, then you can still apply ED I or EA to multiple colleges.
But if you can’t, then you will want to be thoughtful about whether the UCs are really your first choice — you’ll need to make sure you have great essays, since UC is now test-blind, and essays carry a lot more weight than they used to.
4. Would it be of any benefit to apply EA to safety schools so I have acceptances when I start getting decisions from more prestigious schools?
If they are genuinely safety schools, apply RD because you want to be able to put as much time as possible into your early applications, especially the essays. You might, however, apply EA to a safety school if you really want to secure a merit scholarship or something similar.
5. Does the admissions committee look at applicants by region in the early process?
The “boost” you get is after you strip out factors like legacy status and whether you’re an athlete.
Beyond that, the admissions committee does look at applicants by region, both in the early and in the regular processes. Then, depending on the quality of the regional applicant pool that they get during the early round, that might change how RD works in terms of chances of admission for your specific region in the regular round as well.
For example, if they get an unusually strong pool of applicants during the ED round from New Jersey, they might accept more students from New Jersey than they initially expected — and then that means that if you apply from New Jersey during the regular round, you’re going to be worse off.
6. Do ED acceptance chances depend on if you’re applying for scholarships?
That depends on whether the college takes financial need into account. Some colleges have what’s called need-blind applications, meaning they don’t consider your financial aid applications or your scholarship applications when they’re making the admission decision.
Need-aware institutions do take into account your family’s financial situation when they’re making the admissions decisions. So, your chances of ED admissions will be affected.
7. If you’re accepted EA and want to negotiate merit aid, is that better done right away or in the spring?
You probably want to negotiate merit scholarships in the spring because you’ll have more colleges that you’ll have heard back from and received financial aid or merit scholarship offers from.
8. What happens if you don’t go to a school you’re accepted to ED? Do you get sued?
You don’t get sued, but you do often get blacklisted. In general, colleges aren’t allowed to share acceptance results with other colleges. But the one exception to that rule is when it comes to early decision.
If you were accepted ED and you don’t end up enrolling in that college, they will share your name with other schools. And other schools may withdraw your acceptance.
You’re not going to get sued, but you are going to be out of luck when it comes to other college options.
9. If my student doesn’t have a first-choice school but would be happy at several schools, should they apply EA?
Not necessarily. You still get a much bigger admissions boost from applying ED than EA. So, if one school your child loves has ED, you could take advantage of that.
Of course, you have to weigh that against factors like affordability and wanting to have options. But it’s not necessarily the case that if your kid likes a bunch of different schools that they have to apply EA over ED.
10. If you get deferred from a school in an early round, how likely are you to be admitted in the RD round?
If you apply early, once, you technically have two chances if you get deferred. But for many selective schools, the acceptance rate in the RD round after deferral is low. And often, you won’t get that same boost you did when you originally applied ED.
For example, a lower percentage of deferred applicants get into Harvard in the regular round than first-time RD applicants.
Applying early admissions is a complicated process. If you want to learn more about early admissions, then check out our resources on the differences between EA, ED, and RD or the ED and EA acceptance rates at some of the top schools.