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Should You Apply Early Decision II?

The first round of applications has come and gone, and now students wait with bated breath to hear the response from colleges while filling out applications for safety and secondary schools. While everyone hopes to get in early, some won’t be so lucky.

As you work on additional applications, you may notice that some schools offer another round of Early Decision applications, known as Early Decision II (ED II). What’s the purpose of ED II? Should you apply for it? How will it affect your chances of admission? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and explain the why and how of Early Decision II.

What is Early Decision II?

Early Decision admissions have grown in popularity with schools in recent years, and Early Decision II is a subtrend of that growth. Many of the top schools in the country now admit half of each class in the early rounds of admission, either through Early Action or Early Decision. 

These early rounds require applications to be submitted in the Fall, usually in October or November and return their decisions to students before the end of the year, usually in November or December. ED applications also have a higher chance of acceptance, often two or three times that of the acceptance rate for students applying regularly. This is caused by the early pool being generally smaller and more well prepared overall.

Early Decision II applications are due at the same time as regular applications, but they are binding to the school, just as Early Decision applications are. They are also processed much faster, with students hearing back by January or February, instead of March. 

If you applied to a school’s Early Decision and they rejected you, you may not apply to them again ED II or regular decision. While rejection can sting, if you want a chance to apply to that school again, you’ll need to transfer in or take a gap year before using again. Schools will not accept multiple applications from the same student in a single year.

Should You Apply Early Decision II?

There are many reasons you might apply ED II, and we’ll explore these and explain how each may affect your chances of admission. The first thing to remember is that Early Decision II, just like Early Decision, is binding, and you will have to attend the college if you are admitted (finances permitting). Make sure that you are certain about attending any school you apply to use ED or ED II. 

It is also important to note that not all schools offer ED II as an option. While an increasing number of schools offer Early Decision, ED II is not yet as popular. Before deciding to apply to a school using ED II, make sure they offer it.

Some students are not ready to apply for the first round of applications. They want to improve their grades senior year, complete more impressive extracurriculars, or are trying to attain better scores on standardized tests. These students are better served by waiting until the regular round of decisions. If one of the schools you are applying to in this way is definitely your first choice, applying to it using ED II, if it is offered, is an excellent way to boost your admissions chances.

If you were rejected from your first-choice school when applying ED, then applying to your second-choice school using ED II if they offer it is the right choice. This is also a good choice if your first choice school waitlisted you; we explain in more depth your chances and options when put on a waitlist in this article

If the school defers you you applied to ED, then you have a more challenging decision to make. Deferment means that your application will be considered alongside all others who apply in the regular decision round. You are no longer bound to attend the school if they admit you. Therefore, you need to weigh the chances of getting into your first-choice school in the regular admissions pool compared to your chances at another school, ED II. How much you want to attend each school and what level of risk you are willing to accept should drive your decision.

How ED II Affects Admissions Chances

It is well known that applying Early Decision can increase your chances of gaining admission to a college. While ED II does provide a boost to admissions chances, it is not nearly as large as the boost provided by ED. 

This disparity is caused by the increased competition for students applying ED II. Students applying ED are only compared with each other and compete for almost half of the college class’s overall spots. Students who apply ED II are being compared with all of the students who applied regular decision. This means there is much more competition for the same number of spaces.

Applying ED II can provide a small boost to admissions chances, but you will need two things to ensure it is worth it. The first is to be academically qualified for the school you are applying to, with grades and test scores around or above the average for admitted students. The second is to have some aspect of your application to differentiate you and help you stand out from other applicants.

Due to the number of students who apply to elite colleges, generally, admission chances will always be low, and you should always have some aspect of your application to help you stand out. While applying ED II may get you a closer review, you still need to be competitive for the school you are applying to.

Final Thoughts

As Early Action and Early Decision results begin to go out, students are alternatingly filled with joy or dismay. While it may seem a crushing defeat to be rejected in the early rounds, there is still time to complete and submit stellar applications. We hope that this guide is useful to students considering applying ED II and weighing the costs and benefits.

If you want more personalized advice on which schools to apply to or other help with the often complicated admissions process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer free consultations for students and are always happy to hear from you. College applications are frequently difficult and stressful, and there’s no reason to do them alone.

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