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 1) programs with deadlines in October or November, Early Decision 2 (ED2) 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.

(List of ED2 colleges updated September 2022–see below)

Why do colleges offer ED2?

Colleges offer an ED2 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, ED2 offers institutions a second chance to grab guaranteed enrollees.    

Why would a student apply Early Decision 2?

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. Bates College, for example, admits 81% of their freshman class through the ED 1 & 2 cycles;  Grinnell, Pitzer, and Middlebury bring in 65%+ of their first-years this way. They all, like thousands of other schools, show extra love to applicants who pledge attendance. Visit our Dataverse to see more Early Decision Enrollment figures at leading institutions.

Second, a student may apply ED to take advantage of the flexibility that a later deadline offers. For example, ED2 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 1 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 ED2 process.

When exactly is ED2?

Most application deadlines for ED2 fall on January 1, at or around the same time as Regular Decision deadlines. ED 2 applicants usually receive a decision in mid-February. Of course, exact deadlines and policies vary by school. For example, Tulane University’s ED2 apps are due by January 13th, 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 ED2 option will be given special consideration for admission.

Aside from timing, what other differences exist between Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2?

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 2?

Plenty. Below, please find a list of selective colleges and universities offering an ED2 option (Updated September 2022):

 

Institution ED Admission Rate RD Admission Rate ED 2 Deadline
American University 87% 63% January 15
Babson College 39% 24% January 2
Bates College 60% 14% January 10
Bennington College 50% 64% January 15
Bentley University 70% 61% January 15
Boston University 32% 18% January 4
Bowdoin College 27% 7% January 5
Brandeis University Not Reported 39% January 3
Bryn Mawr College 57% 38% January 1
Bucknell University 55% 33% January 15
Carleton College 22% 17% January 15
Case Western Reserve University Not Reported 30% January 15
Claremont McKenna College Not Reported 11% January 10
Colby College Not Reported 9% January 1
Colgate University 44% 15% January 15
College of the Holy Cross 82% 41% January 15
College of William and Mary 51% 41% January 2
College of Wooster 70% 40% January 15
Colorado College 29% 9% January 15
Connecticut College 52% 40% January 15
Davidson College Not Reported 18% January 8
Denison College 43% 27% January 15
Dickinson College 69% 47% January 15
Emory University 26% 12% January 1
Franklin & Marshall College 57% 36% January 15
George Washington University 66% 49% January 5
Gettysburg College 64% 56% January 15
Grinnell College 58% 8% January 1
Hamilton College 41% 12% January 4
Harvey Mudd College 21% 9% January 5
Haverford College 43% 15% January 5
Hobart and William Smith Colleges 83% 66% January 15
Johns Hopkins University 15% 6% January 3
Kenyon College Not Reported 37% January 15
Lafayette College 53% 40% January 15
Lehigh University 70% 44% January 1
Macalester College 49% 17% January 1
Middlebury College 45% 11% January 3
Mount Holyoke College 54% 52% January 4
New York University Not Reported 13% January 15
Northeastern University Not Reported 18% January 1
Oberlin College 44% 34% January 2
Occidental College 59% 37% January 10
Pitzer College 47% 15% January 6
Pomona College Not Reported 7% January 8
Reed College Not Reported Not Reported December 20
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Not Reported 42% December 15
Rhodes College 84% 42% January 15
Santa Clara University 84% 32% January 7
Sarah Lawrence College 65% 49% January 15
Scripps College 51% 28% January 5
Sewanee: The University of the South 72% 40% January 15
Skidmore College 53% 29% January 15
Smith College 58% 27% January 1
St. Olaf College 48% 32% January 15
Swarthmore College Not Reported 8% January 4
Trinity College Not Reported 38% January 14
Trinity University 66% 17% February 1
Tufts University Not Reported 11 January 4
Tulane University 31% Not Reported January 13
Union College 61% 37% January 15
University of Chicago Did not report 6% January 4
University of Miami 65% 16% January 1
University of Richmond 55% 21% January 1
Vanderbilt University 18% 6% January 1
Vassar College Not Reported 20% January 1
Wake Forest University Not Reported 25% January 1
Washington and Lee University 48% 16% January 1
Washington University in St. Louis 29% 11% January 4
Wellesley College 40% 13% January 1
Wesleyan University 55% 17% January 1
Whitman College 57% 59% January 10