Is Early Decision II Right For You?

Students who were not ready to apply early decision or early action to college in November may have an opportunity to revisit that choice. Over 70 colleges offer an EDII option and a smaller number have an EAII option – these applications are typically due on either January 1 or January 15, when most of the Regular Decision applications are also due.

The ED II and EAII plans are basically identical to their first-round early counterparts. Early decision is a binding contract – if admitted, students must withdraw all other pending applications and matriculate at that institution (although colleges will allow students to withdraw from the contract for financial reasons). Early action is, by contrast, not binding.

As with the earlier round, students should not apply early to a college under an EDII plan just to improve their odds. Early decision is only appropriate for students who are confident in their top choice.

But sometimes a student who was not ready to apply EDI may be ready to apply EDII. Some reasons include:

  • Grades: A student who chose not to apply early in the first round might have done so because they felt they needed the benefit of fall semester senior year grades to show colleges they can succeed academically. If they had a strong start to the school year, they may be well-positioned to apply EDII.
  • Test Scores: A student might not have been able to take any standardized tests prior to the fall early deadlines due to the pandemic. Even in the current test optional climate, some students may have wanted to wait to see if they could sit for the ACT or SAT.
  • Research: A student might have felt they needed more time to research colleges, especially this year when the pandemic has upended in-person visits. By January, however, a student will have a final college list and may be more comfortable committing to one college as their top choice.

There is, of course, another group of students for whom EDII makes sense – those who had applied in the first round of early decision but were either denied admission or deferred to the regular application pool.

  • If a student was denied admission, and their second-choice school offers EDII, this may be a natural choice.
  • If, on the other hand, a student was deferred from EDI to the regular decision round, they have a tough decision to make – should they send a letter of continued interest to their top-choice school or choose another school where they can get the ED advantage.

As with all things college admissions, there is no way to predict admissions outcomes, so students need to make the best choice for themselves.

Deciding whether to apply early to college makes sense for some students, but it deserves thoughtful consideration. Whether applying EDI or EDII, students need to be sure that the college to which they are applying are an academic, social and financial fit. Check out other my other blog, How To Finalize Your College ListFinding You Academic Fit, for advice on how to find best fit colleges.