Home & Leisure



Countdown to college: The pros and cons of Early Decision II

Lee Shulman Bierer, Tribune News Service on

Published in Education News

Notifications for Early Decision (ED 1), Early Action (EA) and Restricted Early Action (REA) have been delivered. This year, as in previous years, there were many more tears than fist bumps. It has been a staggeringly competitive year thus far, with significant increases in EA, ED and REA applications at schools across the country.

Students who were rejected or deferred now find themselves in phase two of their application process. Many will examine their lists more closely to reevaluate their thoughts on which schools are “reach,” “target” and “safety."

A relatively new wrinkle in college admissions is an admissions program called Early Decision II (ED II). Traditional ED programs have a Nov. 1 deadline and a December notification. ED II deadlines are typically Jan. 1, with notification by mid-February. This extra time allows students who were deferred or rejected from their first choice school to apply with a binding decision, and perhaps a boosted opportunity to another college.

ED II allows students more time to prepare their strongest application. This is a good time to review your list and think strategically. That may mean rewriting your Common Application essay or refining your supplemental prompts. ED II also gives students with strong performance in their first semester senior year another quarter or semester of grades to share with colleges.

“Applying Early Decision does give students a bit of an admissions odds boost at most colleges," says Sally Rubenstone, a senior adviser at College Confidential (www.collegeconfidential.com). "Admission folks are usually willing to lock in strong-but-not-spectacular candidates whom they know will show up in September.”


Why do colleges offer an ED II program option?

Colleges really like Early Decision I and Early Decision II because accepted students are committed to attend, and that increases their yield numbers, and the yield number impacts their rankings. Additionally, it helps admissions officers shape the class by allowing them to be pickier with the regular decision applicants.

As an example, if a student’s big advantage is that he or she plays the oboe and that was a hole the admissions office filled with an ED I or II applicant, it will be more challenging for that student to be accepted in regular decision.

Rubenstone also notes that “there can be some financial disadvantages to applying ED in any round because an affirmative decision will eliminate your chance to compare multiple aid packages. But, on the other hand, if an ED school does not offer reasonable aid then it’s okay to wheedle out of the so-called 'binding' commitment.”

©2020 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



Mutts David Fitzsimmons Beetle Bailey Wumo Chip Bok Marshall Ramsey