Early Decision II: An FAQ and list of participating colleges
(List of ED II colleges updated November 2019–see below)
Early Decision is quickly becoming a misnomer. An increasing number of highly selective institutions have initiated a second round of binding admission programs, giving students another chance to commit to a college before acceptance and possibly reap admissions-related benefits in the process. Unlike traditional Early Decision (ED I) programs with deadlines in October or November, Early Decision II allows students to wait until later in the admissions cycle to claim their allegiance to a particular school. Most of these deadlines typically fall in early or mid-January and admissions decisions are typically rendered in early-to-mid February.
Why do colleges offer Early Decision II?
Colleges offer an ED II option primarily as means to improve their yield rates (i.e. the percentage of admitted students who attend)—an important indicator of desirability and one that can have significant influence on a college’s ranking. Effectively, ED II offers institutions a second chance to grab guaranteed enrollees.
Why would a student apply Early Decision II?
Two reasons, in particular. First, a student may be denied at her first choice college—to which she applied Early Decision—but has a clear second favorite and wants to improve her odds of admission at that institution (see our Dataverse to compare the 2018-19 ED vs RD acceptance rates). Tufts University, for example, admits 65% of their freshman class through the ED I & II cycles; Bates and Middlebury bring in 64% of their first-years this way. They all, like thousands of other schools, show extra love to applicants who pledge attendance.
Second, a student may apply ED to take advantage of the flexibility that a later deadline offers. For example, ED II applicants have more time to improve their standardized test scores, solidify their college preferences and assess their financial need. Students applying ED II also have an opportunity to submit strong grades earned during their senior year, whereas ED I applicants are usually evaluated on the basis of their academic performance through junior year only. Connecticut College explicitly states on their website that standardized tests taken in December of a student’s senior year will be considered in the ED II process.
When exactly is Early Decision II?
Most application deadlines for ED II fall on January 1, at or around the same time as Regular Decision deadlines. ED II applicants usually receive a decision in mid-February. Of course, exact deadlines and policies vary by school. For example, Boston University ED II apps are due by January 6th, NYU’s are due on New Year’s Day, while Lafayette College offers a deadline of January 15th. Lafayette outwardly tells students on their website that those who choose the ED II option will be given special consideration for admission.
Aside from timing, what other differences exist between Early Decision I and Early Decision II?
None, really. Both offer potential advantages in the admissions process. However, both plans are also binding, meaning that you must attend if admitted.
So which institutions offer Early Decision II?
Plenty. Below, please find a list of selective colleges and universities offering an ED 2 option:
|Institution||ED Admission Rate||RD Admission Rate||ED 2 Deadline|
|American University||85%||33%||January 15|
|Babson College||35%||26%||January 2|
|Bates College||42%||9%||January 1|
|Bennington College||51%||58%||January 15|
|Bentley University||Not Reported||43%||January 7|
|Boston University||30%||18%||January 1|
|Bowdoin College||23%||7%||January 1|
|Brandeis University||37%||29%||January 1|
|Bryant University||78%||58%||January 15|
|Bryn Mawr College||52%||31%||January 1|
|Bucknell University||64%||32%||January 15|
|Carleton College||26%||18%||January 15|
|Case Western Reserve University||39%||23%||January 15|
|Claremont McKenna College||28%||8%||January 5|
|Colby College||38%||11%||January 1|
|Colgate University||46%||20%||January 15|
|College of the Atlantic||81%||71%||January 15|
|College of the Holy Cross||83%||31%||January 15|
|College of William and Mary||49%||37%||January 1|
|College of Wooster||100%||53%||January 15|
|Colorado College||27%||5%||January 15|
|Connecticut College||58%||36%||January 1|
|Davidson College||49%||14%||January 2|
|Denison College||57%||27%||January 15|
|Dickinson College||62%||39%||January 15|
|Emory University||23%||15%||January 1|
|Franklin & Marshall College||69%||28%||January 15|
|George Washington University||71%||39%||January 5|
|Gettysburg College||64%||47%||January 15|
|Grinnell College||57%||22%||January 1|
|Hamilton College||41%||15%||January 1|
|Harvey Mudd College||19%||14%||January 5|
|Haverford College||44%||19%||January 1|
|Hobart and William Smith Colleges||86%||66%||January 15|
|Kenyon College||62%||32%||January 15|
|Lafayette College||51%||30%||January 15|
|Lehigh University||66%||29%||January 1|
|Macalester College||58%||31%||January 1|
|Middlebury College||45%||13%||January 1|
|Mount Holyoke College||57%||36%||January 1|
|New York University||28%||14%||January 1|
|Northeastern University||37%||18%||January 1|
|Oberlin College||49%||35%||January 2|
|Occidental College||49%||36%||February 1|
|Pitzer College||34%||11%||January 1|
|Pomona College||15%||6%||January 8|
|Reed College||48%||39%||December 20|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||65%||47%||December 15|
|Rhodes College||66%||44%||January 15|
|St. Olaf College||76%||45%||January 8|
|Santa Clara University||68%||37%||January 7|
|Sarah Lawrence College||66%||41%||January 2|
|Scripps College||47%||31%||January 5|
|Sewanee: The University of the South||84%||43%||January 15|
|Skidmore College||58%||28%||January 15|
|Smith College||61%||30%||January 1|
|Swarthmore College||24%||8%||January 1|
|Syracuse University||58%||50%||January 1|
|Trinity College||58%||31%||January 15|
|Trinity University||63%||28%||January 15|
|Tufts University||Not Reported||15%||January 1|
|Tulane University||33%||1%||January 6|
|Union College||61%||42%||January 15|
|University of Chicago||Did not report||6%||January 4|
|University of Miami||48%||20%||January 1|
|University of Richmond||48%||19%||January 1|
|Vanderbilt University||20%||8%||January 1|
|Vassar College||40%||22%||January 1|
|Wake Forest University||31%||29%||January 1|
|Washington and Lee University||43%||16%||January 1|
|Washington University in St. Louis||42%||13%||January 2|
|Wellesley College||33%||20%||January 1|
|Wesleyan University||37%||15%||January 1|
|Whitman College||72%||55%||January 15|
A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans more than one decade. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.