Will Colleges Extend Early Decision Deadlines?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Successful Freelancer. Happy afro man smiling and working on laptop in home office. Copyspace, panoramaLearn If Schools Are Considering Extending Their Early Decision Deadlines


Due to the recent changes and cancellations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, some colleges are considering extending their Early Decision deadlines. While students must typically submit applications by early fall, some institutions are weighing more flexible timelines to give applicants more time to complete testing and additional requirements. 

Choosing to apply Early Decision is always a move that prospective applicants should carefully consider, and with all of the recent application changes, it’s particularly imperative for this cycle. Keep reading to learn more about the news surrounding Early Decision deadline extensions and what to consider before applying in this round. 

The Basics

From canceled SAT or ACT exams to the shift to online learning, students have been forced to quickly adapt to a new academic climate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colleges across the country are weighing their options for the fall semester: some schools plan on opening and following a modified schedule while others are opting for online or hybridized models.

In addition to these changes, admissions officers are considering what the application process will look like for rising seniors. In June, the College Board published a notice asking colleges to “…show flexibility this year to reduce stress for students,” specifically citing challenges surrounding universal access to the SAT due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific suggestions include accepting test scores as late as possible in their admissions process especially by extending score deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision and recognizing that some applicants may have only had the opportunity to take the exam once, as opposed to re-testing.

Shortly after, over 250 deans and directors of admission from many of the top schools in the US issued a statement emphasizing that the circumstances students are facing this year will not be held against them in the admissions process. The “Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID-19″ document aimed to reassure students about the college application process this fall. The full document can be found here.

Responses from Colleges

The University of Virginia was the first to announce that they will extend their Early Decision deadline to November 1st to give students more time to compile their applications and weigh their options. The school also opted to move to a test-optional admissions policy for Fall 2021 entry to level the playing field for students who struggled to gain access to SAT testing due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Other colleges have yet to announce a formal extension for Early Decision applicants but are instead emphasizing a move to test-optional admissions for all students applying in the fall of 2020. From small liberal arts colleges like Amherst and Williams to Ivy League institutions including Yale and Columbia, many institutions have at least temporarily shifted to SAT or ACT optional. 

What to Know About Applying Early Decision

Choosing to apply in the early rounds is always a major decision, particularly if students opt for a binding process such as Early Decision. If you are interested in applying early and your best-fit college opts to extend their admissions deadline, take advantage of the additional time to continue to put the finishing touches on your application and solidify your decision. 

Students should be very interested in attending their prospective Early Decision school, as applicants will need to enroll upon admittance. If you’re not entirely confident in this decision, take some time to reflect on the pros and cons associated with each school on your list. Review university websites, social media accounts, and recent news stories to learn as much as possible about your potential options.

If you are preparing for application season and unsure about whether applying in the early rounds is best for you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Our team of college admissions experts can offer personalized insight and work with students one-on-one to create an application strategy that they feel confident about.

Related Topics

Early Decision/Early Action

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