Mark Your Calendars: Understanding Early Application Notification Dates

16/11/202327 minute read
Mark Your Calendars: Understanding Early Application Notification Dates

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!

Overview of the Early Application Process

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 offer a big strategic advantage, especially for admissions to the most competitive schools:

  • Applying early can mean your application is swimming in a smaller pond of applicants, giving you a slight statistical admissions edge
  • Applying early is a great way to signal to a top school how motivated you are to attend their school above other schools — highlighting your enthusiasm and the “fit” between your interests and prominent school programs
  • Some schools also benefit from early decision making in order to boost acceptance rates overall, or to better manage their institution’s “yield rate” — the percentage of students admitted who choose to enroll — giving early applicants a more favorable standing for admission
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Navigating Early Application & Early Notification Dates

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.

What's the Advantage to Applying Early?

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.

Why Is It Important to Consider the Best Application Strategy?

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.

When Are Early Action and Early Decision Applicants Notified?

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. Below you'll find the Early Action and Early Decision application deadlines and notification dates for the Crimson Education top 25 US colleges and universities.

What Are the Early Application Deadlines and Notification Dates for Crimson Education’s Top 25 US Colleges and Universities?

BrownEDNovember 1Mid-December
ColumbiaEDNovember 1Mid-December
CornellEDNovember 1Mid-December
DartmouthEDNovember 1Mid-December
DukeEDNovember 1Mid-December
GeorgetownEANovember 1Early to Mid-December
HarvardREANovember 1Mid-December
John HopkinsED 1 / ED 2November 1Mid-December / Mid-February
MITEANovember 1Mid-December
NorthwesternEDNovember 1December
PrincetonREANovember 1Mid-December
RiceEDNovember 1Mid-December
StanfordREANovember 1Early to Mid-December
University of California, BerkeleyRegular Decision OnlyNovember 30N/A
University of California, Los AngelesRegular Decision OnlyNovember 30N/A
University of ChicagoED 1 and EA / ED 2November 1Mid-December / Mid-February
University of Michigan, Ann ArborEANovember 1Mid- to Late January
University of Notre DameREANovember 1Mid-December
University of PennsylvaniaEDNovember 1Early to Mid-December
University of Southern CaliforniaEANovember 1Mid- to Late January
University of Texas, AustinPriorityNovember 1February
University of VirginiaED / EANovember 1Early to Mid-December / Early to Mid-February
Vanderbilt UniversityED 1 / ED 2November 1Mid-December / Mid-February
Washington University in St. LouisED 1 / ED 2November 1Mid-December / Mid-February
YaleREANovember 1Mid-December
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What's Important to Remember About Early Decision, Early Action, and Restrictive Early Action Notifications?

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.

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Early Decision (ED) Applications and Notification Dates

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.

Round 2 ED Notification Dates

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.

Early Action (EA) & EA Notification Dates

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.

Restrictive Early Action (REA) and REA Notification Dates

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.

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What Should You Do After Receiving Early Application Notifications?

Managing ED Notifications & Offers

  • If you applied to a school as an Early Decision applicant and are accepted, you must attend the school and disregard all other school offers. In most cases you’re going to be notified by mid- or late-December.
  • If you’re not accepted, it’s often the case that your application will still be considered, but any action will be “deferred” until the review of Regular Decision applications.
  • If your application action is deferred, and you are accepted later in the Regular Decision round, keep in mind that there’s no longer any commitment to accept the school’s offer.

Managing EA Notifications & Offers

  • If you’re accepted as an EA applicant, you can still consider all other school offers. But there’s also the deadline, set by the school, for making your decision to accept or decline their offer.
  • If you don’t accept the school’s offer by the response deadline, you may forfeit your spot, depending on school policies or enrollment factors that year — meaning you may face a hard choice, whether to accept the EA offer or wait to hear from schools you applied to as a Regular Decision applicant.
  • If you receive early-round notifications in December and don’t get the offers you’d hoped for, you may want to apply to additional schools as a Regular Decision applicant, to broaden your chances. But if you haven’t planned ahead, you may find it difficult to do so on such a short timeline.
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Expert Insights

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Strategy

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.

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Early Application Strategies: Challenges and Rewards

As students and families consider the benefits of applying early, they not only need to make sure the strategy fits their goals and circumstances, but also consider the challenges that come with meeting early deadlines.

At Crimson Education, our strategists guide students and families so they can make informed decision making and make sure early application strategies are part of a holistic approach aligned with your college goals and choices.

But knowing the right strategy is one thing, getting your high-stakes applications finished months ahead of Regular Decision deadlines is another thing. But because Crimson students are generally highly motivated, they often accept the challenge, knowing how hard it is to get an edge when applying to the most selective schools.

Early Application Success Stories: Luiz and Ayaka.

In combination with the insights and support provided by Crimson Advisors, taking on the challenge of applying early can be a winning strategy. As proof, let's take a look at how two Crimson students, Luiz and Ayaka, aligned an Early Round application strategy with their holistic admissions planning and see what happened.

Luiz's Story (Yale, Early Action)

Luiz came to Crimson with Harvard and Yale at the top of his list of “reach” schools. His academic and extracurricular profiles stood out but there were some challenges that needed to be addressed to ensure a strong application and better chance of success at schools like these.

Luiz decided to take on the dual challenge of significantly improving his SAT scores, especially in the Reading section, while also committing to applying in early rounds. Applying in the Early Action round promised a 10% acceptance rate, compared to the Regular Decision round with a stunningly low 3.2% acceptance rate!

Luiz not only submitted his application to Yale in time for Early Action, but with help from his Crimson strategist and the essay mentor on his team, Luiz submitted a stand out application that elicited a remarkable response from the Admissions Officer:

Luiz! Welcome to Yale! It was a true honor to read your incredible application. That is among the very best I have ever reviewed…I learned so much [from your essay]…and appreciated your reflections very deeply.

Ayaka's Story (Brown University, Early Decision)

When Ayaka came to Crimson, she had a lot going for her academically, but her extracurriculars, while rich, covered lots of subjects and interests.

Her Crimson advisors determined that Ayaka needed to find a way to present a more coherent profile in her college essays and apply early to increase her chances of success, especially since Brown University, her top choice, was very selective.

Initially Ayaka had her doubts — Brown had a very rigorous application process, adding to the difficulty of finishing in time to meet the early deadline.

In the end, with insights from her Crimson Advisor, a patient essay coach, and a Crimson team member to help her track timelines and admissions requirements, Ayaka submitted a strong application to Brown University in time to apply as an Early Decision applicant.

Since Brown was Ayaka’s genuine top choice, applying ED ultimately made sense, and the strategy worked — leaving Ayaka feeling a bit surprised, very excited, and grateful for her decision and for the help provided by her Crimson Advisor:

My strategist helped me out with my schedule and kept me way ahead of my deadlines, so while my peers at school were struggling right before the deadlines, I was very calm and relaxed about the application process,” Ayaka says. “It would’ve been a much more stressful application process without Crimson.

Both Luiz and Ayaka were aiming for some of the most selective US universities. By combining a strong admissions strategy with the support of a Crimson Advisor and committing to meeting the early deadline, both reached their goal, highlighting the benefits of a holistic approach and an Early Round application strategy.

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Leveraging Early Admissions in a Competitive Landscape

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.

ED 1 & ED 2 Application Strategy

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.

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Final Thoughts

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.

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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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