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Early Action and Early Decision Deadlines Looming

An early application is a sure-fire way to boost your chances of admission, especially if you have great grades and top scores that are in range for the schools on your college list. If you’ve read our blog posts and admissions books, you know that your odds go way up when you apply in a binding Early Decision program. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the early decision stats that we collect and post each year. Your odds of admission were about three times greater if you applied early versus regular to Brown, Columbia, and Duke. At Dartmouth, the early decision admit rate was four times greater.

Although not the case for every early action school, there are certainly clear statistical benefits to applying early action as well.  At Harvard, your chances were five times greater last year if you applied early action than waiting until the regular round. Yale and Notre Dame applicants had more than double the rate of admission if they applied under early action. Overall, keep in mind that early decision gives a much better boost compared to early action across the board – that is the reward for a student willing to commit to a school.


Keep in mind that the reasons the admit rates trend higher in early at top private schools is that applicants with hooks (recruited athletes, legacies, VIP’s, underrepresented minority students) tend to get even more of an admission boost if they apply early. Are you an unhooked applicant? You will still benefit from a more thoughtful review as applicant pools are notably smaller and admissions staffs are not completely overwhelmed with applications to read. Plus you are read against a backdrop of many recruited athletes, legacies and borderline applicants so you may shine brighter against a dimmer background. Overall, regular applicant pools tend to be stronger.

These early deadlines are drawing near so we’ve made it easy for you and listed the specific dates for some top schools. Create your own spreadsheet and get organized. This is a critical time for you, seniors. Leverage the early round and up your odds.


CollegeEarly Deadline(s)
American UniversityEDII: 1/15/21
Amherst CollegeED: 11/16/20
Babson CollegeEDI and EA: 11/1/20EDII: 1/2/21
Barnard CollegeED: 11/1/20
Bates CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Baylor UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Bentley UniversityED: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/7/21
Boston CollegeEA: 11/1/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Boston UniversityEDI: 11/1/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Bowdoin CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/5/21
Brandeis UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Brown UniversityED: 11/1/20
Bryn Mawr CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
BucknellEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/15/21
CalTechEA: 11/1/20
Carelton CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Carnegie Mellon UniversityED: 11/1/20; EA (juniors) 1/1/21
Case Western ReserveEDII: 1/15/21
Claremont McKennaEDI: 11/1/20; EDII: 1/5/21
Colby CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Colgate UniversityEDI: 1/15/21; EDII: 1/15/21
College of the Holy CrossEDII: 1/15/21
College of William and MaryEDII: 1/1/21
Colorado CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Columbia UniversityED: 11/1/20
Connecticut CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/15/21
Cornell UniversityED: 11/16/20
Dartmouth CollegeED: 11/1/20
Davidson CollegeEDII: 1/4/21
Denison CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Dickinson CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/15/21
Duke UniversityED: 11/16/20
Emerson CollegeEDI/EA: 11/1/20
Emory UniversityEDI: 11/1/20 EDII: 1/1/21
Fairfield UniversityEDII: 1/15/21
Franklin and Marshall CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
George Washington UniversityEDII: 1/5/21
Georgetown UniversityEA: 11/1/20
Gettysburg CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Grinnell CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Hamilton CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Hampshire CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Harvard UniversityREA: 11/1/20
Harvey Mudd CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/5/21
Haverford CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Hobart and William Smith CollegesEDII: 1/15/21
Johns Hopkins UniversityED: 11/2/20; EDII: 1/4/21
Kenyon CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Lafayette CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Lake Forest CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Lehigh UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Macalaster CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Middlebury CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/1/21
MITEA: 11/1/20
Muhlenberg CollegeEDII: 2/1/21
New York UniversityEDI: 11/1/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Northeastern UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Northwestern UniversityED: 11/1/20
Oberlin CollegeEDII: 1/2/21
Occidental CollegeEDII: 2/1/21
Pitzer CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Pomona CollegeEDI: 11/15/20; EDII: 1/8/21
Rice UniversityED: 11/1/20
Rochester Institute of TechnologyEDII: 1/1/21
Santa Clara UniversityEDII: 1/7/21
Sarah Lawrence CollegeEDII: 1/2/21
Scripps CollegeEDII: 1/5/21
Sewanee: University of the SouthEDII: 1/15/21
Skidmore CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Smith CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Southern Methodist UniversityEDII: 1/15/21
Stanford UniversityREA: 11/1/20
Stonehill CollegeEDII: 2/1/21
Stevens Institute of TechnologyEDII: 1/15/21
SwarthmoreED: 11/15/20; EDII:1/4/21
Syracuse UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Trinity CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
Trinity UniversityEDII: 2/1/21
Tufts UniversityEDI: 11/17/20; EDII: 1/1/21
Tulane UniversityEA: 11/15/20; EDI: 11/1/20
Union CollegeEDII: 1/15/21
University of ChicagoEA/EDI: 11/2/20; EDII: 1/4/21
University of MiamiEDII: 1/1/21
University of MichiganEA: 11/15/20
UNC Chapel HillEA: 10/15/20
University of PennsylvaniaED: 11/1/20
University of RichmondEDII: 1/1/21
University of RochesterEDII: 1/20/21
University of South CarolinaEA: 10/15/20
University of VirginiaEDI/EA: 11/1/20
Vanderbilt UniversityEDI: 11/1/20 EDII: 1/1/21
Vasser CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Villanova UniversityEA/ED: 11/15/20: EDII: 1/15/21
Wake Forest UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Washington and Lee UniversityEDII: 1/1/21
Washington U. St. LouisEDI: 11/1/20; EDII: 1/2/21
Wellesley CollegeEDII: 1/1/21
Wesleyan UniversityEDII: 1/15/21
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteEDII: 1/15/21
Yale UniversitySCEA: 11/1/20


Be sure to finalize your Early Decision II and/or Regular round essays and have them locked and loaded in your online application accounts (UC Application, Common App, etc.). We can help you with your application and your essays immediately via our Common App 911 and Essay Guidance packages! Don’t miss the opportunity to leverage yourself, your essays and your application.


It is your responsibility to ensure every piece of your application has been submitted INCLUDING what your high school is supposed to submit. CHECK the specifics for your early round colleges as policies vary by school and then do your due diligence to ensure all of your ducks are in a row. It’s imperative you stay on top of this important administrative piece to your application. After all, your school won’t get deferred because a document was missing, YOU will.

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Why Early Decision Still Makes Sense for Many Students

Post by: Dr. Michele Hernandez

We’ve had vigorous debates on this blog and with students and parents about the merits of early decision. As a brief primer, both early action and early decision have early November deadlines, but early action is NON binding (you do not have to say “yes”) while early decision is binding (you have to say “yes” and withdraw any other applications). The confusing thing is that HarvardYale, and Stanford have a “single choice/restrictive” early action policy (non-binding but you can only apply to state schools or international schools as back up) while the other five Ivies all have normal early decision. Princeton for this cycle is not doing any early round at all which throws a wrench into the scene.


As you can see from the tables below, early decision acceptance rates are 3 to 4 times higher than regular only acceptance rates while early action acceptance rates are higher, but not by as big a margin with the exception of MIT. The one thing that is indisputable is that regular only admittance rates are super low from 2-3% at Stanford (which didn’t give out exact numbers from this cycle so we are guesstimating) and Harvard to a “high” of 6-7%. Looking at just the numbers, there is a clear advantage to applying early action/early decision at every school. But as many perceptive readers of past posts pointed out, the difference is not quite as sharp because legacies and recruited athletes tend to get accepted in the early decision round so while it may look like Dartmouth takes 26% of ALL early applicants, it is going to be less than that for “non-hooked” applicants. As I will illustrate below, even so, it is worth it to apply early decision to increase your odds. Some argue that early decision can lock you into a financial bind as you cannot compare financial aid packages so is “only for the wealthy.” That is not true because the Ivies bend over backwards to give generous aid packages once they commit to a student and in the worst case scenario, you can be released from the early decision agreement if after you appeal your financial aid award, you still cannot afford it.


  1. Even taking into account legacies and recruited athletes, the acceptance rate is still higher than regular round.
  2. There are MANY fewer applicants in the early round (look at the table below – sometimes 8-10 times fewer in early!) which means your application, essays, teacher recs and materials are read much more carefully and typically by admissions officers rather than outside readers.
  3. Not only are there fewer applicants in early, but with legacies and athletes who tend to be in the lower side academically, truly strong applicants who are academic superstars shine brighter in the early decision round than in the regular round. To say it another way, the regular round is much more competitive with many of the nation’s top students waiting until regular round. The early round overall is weaker because of the recruited athletes and legacies and “reach” applicants.
  4. Applying early decision tells the college that you picked them first – and you love their school and are willing to commit. That means for a student who might be “on the border,” often admissions officers will take that student in early but not in regular. This is demonstrated interest on steroids.
  5. What about getting deferred? Think of it this way, if you were deferred in the early round, you would have been rejected in the regular round, so nothing lost there. Plus, deferred students have a chance to send an update with new grades, awards, scores, etc… and roughly 5-15% of deferred kids (depending on the school) will be accepted during the regular round. The advantage is that the college knows it is your top choice, signaled by the original ED choice.
  6. Finally, with COVID still in the picture, many schools (especially small liberal arts schools) have lost a ton of tuition dollars from last year plus have many added expenses to develop a Coronavirus plan (paying for HEPA filters, more ventilation, etc…). That means that students who don’t need financial aid AND who apply ED will have higher admissions odds this year.
  7. Related to the above, we predict that many liberal arts colleges along with top universities will admit a higher percentage of the class in the ED round to lock in tuition paying students.


As I’ve argued before, if I could wave my magic wand, I would force all the top colleges to have two rounds of early decision (I and II) but 1- limit the number to perhaps only 30-35% of the total class rather than 50% as U Penn takes now for example) and 2- provide super generous financial aid/grants to students. That way colleges could still reserve 60-70% of the spots for regular round but still give students two rounds to indicate a true first choice. I would eliminate single choice early action so HYPS don’t artificially elevate themselves over the other schools simply based on policy. In a typical year, 20,000 to 25,000 students are deferred or rejected from HYPS, freak out, and then apply to 20-30 schools in regular round. That is why the system is flooded with a ridiculous number of applicants in regular round. Changing the system would reduce that number dramatically. But no school wants to act in a vacuum – they need to join hands and take the plunge all at once to insert some measure of sanity into the process.



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Early Admissions UPDATE: Class of 2024

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, higher ed reporters were trumpeting the growing popularity of early decision programs. Several top schools hit record highs with the number of early decision applicants; as a result, early admit rates hit an all-time low at those same schools.

Admissions leaders were clear about reasons for these increases, most pointing to efforts to increase accessibility to talented students who, historically, are underrepresented at the nation’s top private colleges. Several factors were highlighted as explanation for the growth, everything from enhancements to financial aid (Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion gift for financial aid to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins; expanded financial aid at Colby and Rice) to the University of Chicago’s decision to go test optional; to significantly greater use of Questbridge as a pipeline of students from underrepresented backgrounds (low income, first gen, and underrepresented minority students). Perhaps less publicly proclaimed were the colleges’ own direct marketing efforts (email and snail mail), aimed at enticing larger numbers of students to apply early through a drumbeat of messaging.


Has the popularity of early decision hit its limit? As we saw this past December, many top schools reported a decline in the number of early decision applicants for the Class of 2024. Check out our Early Admissions Stats page for the whole picture! Admissions deans are a bit circumspect about these decreases but we’ve gleaned some tidbits of information. Dartmouth and Emory point to a decrease in the number of international students in their early pools. Penn noted a change in the admissions application, requiring two shorter essays instead of one slightly longer supplement, as a potential cause of their decrease. Harvard’s dean attributed the university’s results to economic uncertainty worldwide and a plateauing of the number of high school students in the U.S., among other factors.


Where do we go from here? Several key schools have made it a policy to not release their early statistics (citing concerns about increasing student/parent stress about the process), and so the full picture is still incomplete. It remains to be seen if the volume of regular decision applicants to top colleges and universities will reflect similar decreases or rebound. No matter the final number of regular decision applicants, there will likely be more volatility in this year’s admissions cycle, as colleges try to assess who, among their regular decision applicants, have the highest yield probability.

Check out our original Early Admissions Trends: Class of 2024 post for a deep dive into exactly what happened in the early rounds.

Watch this space for further updates as more data are released.

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Class of 2024: Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

Your early round applications are IN and as the great Tom Petty originally sang, ‘The waiting is the hardest part’. Boy, was he ever right! We’ve compiled the most up-to-date listing of early decision and early action notification dates for you. Sit back, relax and let the admissions letters (acceptances we hope) roll in!

Best of luck!!


As promised, early results are rolling in for Top Tier students… Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Swarthmore… the list goes on and year after year, we are overcome with joy! What a wonderful time of year! Hard work pays off and when we release our final results you’ll see just what we mean.

Many of the below have been updated as results are being released as we type… stay tuned and be sure to check your email (that you submitted your application with) frequently!


Amherst College December 15th
Babson College EDI & EA: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
Barnard College Mid-December
Boston College EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 15th
Boston University

Brown University

EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 15th


Bucknell University EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) EA: Mid-December
Carnegie Mellon University ED: December 15th
Claremont McKenna College EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 15th
Colgate University EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-March
Columbia University Mid-December
Connecticut College EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
Cornell University December 12th
Dartmouth College December 12th
Duke University December 12th
Emory University EDI: by December 15th; EDII: by February 15th
Georgetown University December 15th
Hamilton College


Harvard University

EDI: by December 15th; EDII by February 15th

December 12th

Harvey Mudd College EDI: mailed December 15th; EDII: mailed February 15th
Haverford College EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 15th
Johns Hopkins University by December 15th
Massachusetts Institute of Technology December 14th
Middlebury College

New York University

EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February

EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 15th

Northwestern University Mid-December
Pomona College EDI: by December 15th; EDII: by February 15th
Princeton University December 12th
Rice University by mid-December
Stanford University December 15th
Swarthmore College Online December 12th
Tufts University EDI: mid-December; EDII: mid-February
Tulane University ED: by December 15th; EA: January 15th
University of Chicago EA/EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
University of Michigan EA: no later than December 24th
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by end of January
University of Pennsylvania ED: Mid-December
University of Virginia ED: Mid-December; EA: aim to release by Mid-February
Vanderbilt University EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
Villanova University

Wake Forest University

EDI: by December 20th

EDI: Rolling by mail only; EDII: approximately February 15th by mail only

Washington University in St. Louis EDI: December 15th; EDII: February 14th
Wellesley College EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February; Regular Decision w/Early Evaluation: Late February
Wesleyan University EDI: Mid-December; EDII: Mid-February
Williams College December 15th
Worcester Polytechnic Institute EAI: December 20th; EAII: February 10th
Yale University SCEA: December 16th, 5pm EST

Notice a school of interest not listed? Simply let us know in the comments and we’ll gather the information for you and post.

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Is Early Decision II Right for You?

When we think of early applications, we tend to focus on schools that have application deadlines in late October and November. These types of applications—Early Decision, Early Action, Single Choice Early Action, Restricted Early Action, Rolling, Preferred, etc.—often get the lion’s share of our attention, especially as we’re putting together applications during the fall semester.

There is, however, one other type of early application that is sometimes overlooked: Early Decision II. ED II applications, which are generally due in the early part of January, offer students a second chance to submit a binding Early Decision application. Not every school offers this option, and not every student will want to take advantage of it. For some students, however, ED II represents a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of Early Decision, including increased odds of admission and a quicker turnaround on application results.

To help you think through this option, we’ve listed below some scenarios in which Early Decision II might be a good choice.

college application early decision II option


  • You missed the boat on ED I.

    Maybe you didn’t have your college list set or your applications weren’t quite finished. Maybe you had a number of strong choices and couldn’t yet commit to a single one. Whatever the reason, if you didn’t submit an ED I application during the fall, ED II offers you another opportunity to take advantage of the Early Decision round. If you’re confident now that you know which school is right for you, submit an ED II application (just one!) along with your regular applications. Your odds won’t go up as much as the ED 1 option simply because 40-50% of the seats are already taken, but it will keep you out of the dreaded, swamped pool of the regular round.


  • You didn’t get into your ED I school, and you have a clear second choice.

    If you’ve been rejected or deferred from your first-choice institution, now could be a great time to regroup and try again at another school that you’d also love to attend. The only catch: make sure to learn from your ED I results when selecting an ED II institution. Getting rejected from your ED I school may be an indication that you aimed too high with your applications. If that’s the case, you’ll want to lower your sights a little and apply to a school that’s more easily in-range for you in the ED II round. As a general rule, you never want to follow up on an ED I rejection by applying to a morecompetitive ED II school. If you were deferred from your ED1 school, it can often be because something wasn’t submitted on time or scores never arrived – a logistical reason. Check this first. If everything arrived and you were still deferred, don’t get your hopes too high simply because it may just be a polite rejection.  There are things you can do if deferred, but strongly consider EDII.


  • You want to boost your odds of admission.

    If you love a school beyond measure, but worry you won’t stand out in the regular round, ED II can offer a slight boost to your prospects. College rankings consider each school’s “yield” of admitted students, so admissions officers are always eager to fill the incoming class with students who are committed to attend. For that reason, while ED II doesn’t offer quite the same increased odds as ED I, you’ll generally have better luck applying ED II than you will in the regular round. That said, applying ED II won’t make up for a subpar GPA or test scores below the school’s average. To make the most of this competitive advantage, you’ll want to apply in the ED II round at a school where you are in-range, albeit perhaps not a likely admit.

If, after weighing your options, you feel that ED II may be the right choice for you, consider applying to one of the schools that offer this option. We’ve listed some schools that offer ED II below: