EA, ED, E What? A Breakdown of Early Admissions Programs

EA, ED, E what? High school seniors and their parents hear these acronyms fly around like mosquitos in the summer. But what do they stand for? What do they mean? Here is breakdown of these ubiquitous abbreviations:

Early action programs typically require students to submit applications 6 to 8 weeks before the regular decision deadline. Applicants applying EA have the benefit of receiving a decision up to five months before regular decision applicants. Some colleges have restrictive or single choice early action meaning that they may, for example, not allow EA applicants to apply to any other schools early. Every school has its own flavor of restriction so be sure to check with each school on its policy. Schools with unrestricted early action permit students to apply early decision or early action to any number of colleges. Colleges and universities can choose to accept, defer, or deny an early action applicant. An accepted student has been admitted to college, a deferred student has had their application moved to the regular decision round of applications and will be reevaluated, and a denied student has been rejected from the college.

Early decision programs require applicants to submit applications by November 1st. Unlike with early action, these applications are binding meaning that if you are accepted, you are obligated to attend. As a result, students are only permitted to apply to one school early decision. ED applicants typically receive their admissions decisions by mid-December. Like EA, ED schools can accept, defer, or deny their applicants.

**Some institutions will offer two rounds of early decision. ED I applicants will submit applications by November 1st and hear back around December 15th. ED II applicants, however, will submit their binding applications at the same time as regular decision candidates but will receive notification in February.**

Early admissions programs allow talented high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors to attend college without receiving a high school diploma. These programs can be excellent for high school students who are unchallenged yet mature enough to transition to college before many of their peers.

Rolling admissions programs admit students on a continual, or rolling, basis. This means that the school will make admissions decisions every few weeks and stop accepting applications once space in the given class has filled. Schools with rolling admissions usually accept and reject some applicants in the window in which they apply, however they will oftentimes hold applications for several rounds before making a decision.

Regular decision programs request that students submit their applications usually around January 1st. Students who apply regular decision may be admitted, denied, or placed on a waiting list.

Below is a small sampling of schools that offer some of these different admissions programs (some schools offer may offer more than one early program):

Early Decision
Columbia University
Swarthmore College
Dartmouth College
New York University
Goucher College
Brandeis University
Grove City College
State University of New York – Buffalo

Restrictive Early Action
Georgetown University
Stanford University
Yale University
Harvard University
Boston College

Early Action
Goucher College
Dickinson College
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Oregon State University
Pratt Institute
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame

Rolling Admissions
Depaul University
Eckerd College
Goddard College
Hofstra University
Indiana University
Loyola University of Chicago
Michigan State University
Pennsylvania State University
University of Pittsburgh

Early Admissions
University of Southern California
Mary Baldwin College
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Boston University
Chestnut Hill College
Guilford College

Still confused about which program is right for you? Look for posts this week analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of each program.