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Overview of Early Application Process
Early Notification Dates
Types & Decision Dates: ED, EA, and REA
After Receiving Early Notifications
While Early Action and Early Decision options can help you boost your odds for admissions at many highly selective colleges and universities, charting the best application strategy for different schools and juggling overlapping application and notification timelines can be confusing if not downright overwhelming.
In this post we’ll review what students and their guardians need to know about Early Action, Early Decision, and Restrictive Early Action (sometimes called Single-Choice Early Action) admissions policies. You’ll learn the early notification dates most schools adhere to, and find a list of those dates for all of the Crimson Education Top 25 US Colleges and Universities. Finally we’ll share important tips and insights from other Crimson students and our Admissions Strategists, to help you fit early-round application options and your early-round notification decision points into a coherent application strategy!
Unlike Regular Decision application deadlines — which often fall between January 1st and mid-February, early-round applications typically need to be submitted by November 1st.
Different admissions timelines can come with pros and cons that inform your decision making when it comes to EA/ED application strategies vs. Regular Decision applications.
Beyond the stress of preparing applications in time, downsides of applying early include the impact it might have on the quality of application you submit. For example, applying by November 1st of your senior year means less time — less time to refine your application essay, secure letters of recommendation, do SAT/ACT retakes, or address any deficiencies on your transcripts…
The pros of participating in early-round decision making are often well worth it for those able to meet the timeline. One of the prominent advantages of early decision making is simply the convenience of finding out sooner if you’re accepted. That said, it can also have some bigger strategic advantages too, especially for admissions to the most competitive schools:
Once you’ve applied for Early Action or Early Decision admissions, the time will quickly approach when you’ll be eagerly scanning your inbox, waiting to receive admissions notifications and decisions, and hopefully, celebrating offers from your top-choice schools.
By applying early you’ll get decision notifications much earlier, and you can boost your odds for admissions at selective schools. But Early Decision, Early Action, and Restrictive Early Action options can have both pros and cons, which we’ll discuss throughout this post.
Early Decision, in particular, involves a binding agreement to attend the school if accepted, that’s why it’s important to be thinking ahead about early notification dates and the decisions that you may be facing as soon as December! And, since most Regular Decision applications have January 1st deadlines, applicants typically don’t have too much time to send in other applications if their Early Decision application is rejected.
Most colleges and universities send out Early Decision/Early Action notification letters or emails in mid- to late December. With that in mind, Crimson is here to help you navigate this application process. And, this post will list the actual Early Action and Early Decision notification dates for many top US colleges and universities.
Below you'll find a list of application deadlines and notification dates for early-round applications at leading colleges and universities.
|UNIVERSITY||ACTION||APPLICATION DEADLINE||NOTIFICATION DATE|
|Georgetown||EA||November 1||Early to Mid-December|
|John Hopkins||ED 1 / ED 2||November 1||Mid-December / Mid-February|
|Stanford||REA||November 1||Early to Mid-December|
|University of California, Berkeley||Regular Decision Only||November 30||N/A|
|University of California, Los Angeles||Regular Decision Only||November 30||N/A|
|University of Chicago||ED 1 and EA / ED 2||November 1||Mid-December / Mid-February|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor||EA||November 1||Mid- to Late January|
|University of Notre Dame||REA||November 1||Mid-December|
|University of Pennsylvania||ED||November 1||Early to Mid-December|
|University of Southern California||EA||November 1||Mid- to Late January|
|University of Texas, Austin||Priority||November 1||February|
|University of Virginia||ED / EA||November 1||Early to Mid-December / Early to Mid-February|
|Vanderbilt University||ED 1 / ED 2||November 1||Mid-December / Mid-February|
|Washington University in St. Louis||ED 1 / ED 2||November 1||Mid-December / Mid-February|
Many colleges, including a significant number of highly selective colleges, offer Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) application options, with a handful of schools offering both EA and ED.
Typically notification dates for ED are in early or late December: EA notifications often go out in mid-December, but sometimes a couple weeks later, and can vary by school or in a given year.
At schools offering both EA and ED options, ED notifications typically go out in mid-December, but EA notification dates may trail a couple weeks, or more, behind.
Restrictive Early Action (REA), sometimes called Single-choice Early Action, is offered only by a handful of elite colleges, such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown, Yale, California Institute of Technology, and the University of Notre Dame. REA notifications typically go out in mid-December.
ED is a consequential application strategy, because it involves you, the student, making a binding commitment to attend the university you’re applying to if accepted. That means, in addition to needing to meet the early application deadline, students who apply ED somewhere cannot apply to any other school on an ED basis, with very few exceptions. And, if accepted, you’re also committing to accept the school’s offer, which can limit options down the road for entertaining both other admissions offers as well as any accompanying financial aid offer.
For ED applications the deadline is usually November 1st. ED notifications typically go out in mid- or late-December, but dates can vary from school to school, or from year to year. And, remember, if you’re accepted, that is now a binding decision for you, the student.
Many schools also offer second-round ED application options and timelines. Just like all other ED applications, Round 2 ED applications are binding — so you can’t apply to any other schools as an ED applicant, and if you’re admitted, you must attend.
Round 2 application deadlines are later, usually between Jan 1. And Feb. 1 of your senior year. Round 2 ED notifications are also later, and typically go out mid-February to mid-March.
EA is a good way to spotlight your enthusiasm for a specific school and your early readiness, and it doesn’t impose any binding commitment, the way an ED application does. You can apply to multiple schools as an EA applicant, if you’re not applying REA (or Single-Choice EA).
Even though there’s no binding commitment, you still get notified of admissions decisions much earlier than any of your peers who are applying in Regular Decision rounds, and it may give your odds for admissions a boost.
For EA admissions you typically need to apply by November 1st.
EA notification dates typically fall between mid-December and mid-January, but notification dates vary based on the school, and sometimes from year to year. Remember, as an EA applicant, if you do receive an offer from the school, you’re NOT bound by any commitments.
REA requires a student to sign a form that they will not apply for early admissions at any other school — but there can be exceptions for applying to a public university or a foreign university. Like EA, REA does NOT involve any binding commitments if the applicant is accepted.
The REA application deadline is typically November 1st.
REA notifications typically happen in mid-December. Remember, if you’re accepted, there’s NO commitment to accept the offer.
There are lots of factors and pros and cons to consider when deciding what schools to apply to and where to apply early round, or not, and if applying early is the right decision. These decision points can vary based on personal circumstances, interests, goals, and the schools you’re applying to.
This is why Crimson Advisors match students with an experienced admissions strategist — to help ensure a holistic approach and comprehensive plan aligned with their college aspirations and personal qualities and interests.
So here’s what our experts at Crimson suggest: don’t fall into the trap of thinking there’s one right or wrong strategy when it comes to juggling early application decisions or the decisions you may need to make in the early notification stage of your college journey. Your decisions need to be informed by your individual strategy, and that depends on many factors.
Many of our admissions strategists have years of experience as college admissions officers at top schools. These strategists say applying EA or ED is one of their top five admissions strategies for students applying to highly competitive colleges and universities.
This is how Crimson Education CEO Jamie Beaton likes to explain this advantage:
In a competitive admissions process at top schools, applying early can boost your admissions odds three to four, to even seven times, at these schools. In fact, half the schools’ rosters may be filled in the early round.
Sarah, a Crimson student admitted to St. Andrews University, advises students to start admissions planning as early as possible.
Obviously, a key advantage of building your application strategy early is that you’re more likely to be able to apply in early rounds, if that’s a good strategy for you. Preparing early also means you’re more likely to be able to submit a top-notch application, even if you need to submit it by November 1st.
As you now know, ED applications have strings attached — if you apply ED and you’re accepted, you need to forgo other offers and attend your ED school. This also means you can only apply to one ED school, right? Well, generally, yes, that’s true. But Nika, a Crimson student who got into Tufts University has this tip for ED applicants: remember that if you get notified in December that your ED application was rejected or deferred, you’re no longer bound by any commitments.
So, if your strategy included another target school that offers an ED 2 application timeline option, and time permits, you would be free to submit a second ED application (round 2) to that school without violating any ED agreements.
If you want to get strategies like these and many others to boost your admissions odds, remember that our advisors, strategists, and essay mentors can truly help you identify your best target and reach schools and align all of your application strategies around your individual circumstances, college choices, and personal goals.
Admissions to the most selective colleges and universities have actually grown more competitive, not less, over the past few years. One reason is that a growing number of students and families understand the benefits — tangible and intangible — that accrue from a top-flight education in settings with the best researchers and with the best peer and professional networks.
While you may certainly succeed without the support of an experienced advisor and strategist on your side, we know that our team approach increases student acceptance rates significantly at top schools.
If you're grappling with application decisions, remember that you don't have to navigate these crossroads alone. At Crimson, our experienced counselors are ready to provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation and aspirations.
It’s hard to overestimate the benefits of having expert guidance during this critical and often stressful time. An Advisor will help you identify your best strategy and connect you with friendly team members who have just the right skills to help you with your college application timeline, application strategy, and application materials, including your essays, which can have a prominent impact on your success.
Ready to begin your journey? Book a free consultation with a Crimson counselor today.
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