Q: I applied to what I believed was my first-choice school under the Early Decision plan in November. Since then, I have had more time to research and visit schools on my list. As a result, I think that my first-choice school has changed. This school has an Early Decision 2 plan. Can I apply there under this plan even though I applied Early Decision 1 somewhere else? What are the benefits of applying Early Decision 2?
A: It depends on several factors. First of all, remember that you have committed yourself to the school you applied to in the first Early Decision (ED) round. Until you have received notification from this school, you won’t be able to make the final decision on applying ED 2 to another school.
Usually students find out from their Early schools in mid-December, which means there is a chance that you won’t find out before the ED 2 deadline for the other school. In that case, you should apply under the Regular plan to all of your other schools, including your new first-choice.
The timing is very important because it is unethical to apply to more than one school under the ED or Single-Choice Early Action plan. (Note: you should contact the colleges directly to find out about their policies.)
Therefore, you can apply under the ED 2 plan only if you have been deferred or rejected from your ED 1 school. You should also check with your school counselor about this because your high school may have its own policy regarding the number of Early schools to which you can apply.
By applying ED 2 to another school, you will be committing yourself to attending this institution, and agreeing to withdraw your other applications if admitted. In other words, if you are deferred from the first school, and you apply and get into another school in the ED 2 round, you will not be able to attend the first school even if you get in during the Regular round.
Similar to ED 1, you are able to show your strong interest to the school by applying ED 2, which is viewed favorably by institutions. And you will receive your admissions results earlier.
Another advantage of applying under the ED 2 plan is that you have more time to improve your academic profile by pulling up your grades in senior year and raising your standardized test scores. In addition, as you experienced, the later deadline allows you to do more research and school visits.
Of course, ED 2 allows you more time to prepare applications as well. Most ED 2 deadlines fall on or around January 1st or 15th, but schools like Middlebury have Pre-Application Forms, which must be submitted in mid-December. Other schools that have ED 2 include, but are not limited to: Carleton, Colgate, Davidson, Dickinson, Emory, Kenyon, Lehigh, Oberlin, University of Richmond, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, Tufts, Wesleyan, Wheaton (MA).
Before making the decision to apply to another school under the ED 2 plan, you should take some time to reflect on why your first-choice school has changed, and think about the ways in which this other school is a better match for you. If you’re unable to come up with concrete reasons, you are probably not ready to commit and should apply as a Regular candidate to that school.