6 College Admissions Options to Consider

Narrowing the choice to attend one particular school may be an obvious path for some students. These students can submit an early decision (ED) application in the fall and receive an early response. This is a binding agreement that requires attendance if accepted. 

Early Decision I & II (ED) – ED I deadlines traditionally fall in November and ED II traditionally falls in January. This is the second round of a binding admissions program. You must withdraw applications submitted to other schools if admitted through the binding ED agreement. Check the school website for specific information related to the early decision program. 

For many others, the process requires a more expansive application strategy. Many colleges have multiple deadline options, which presents the opportunity to consider the implications of ED, early action (EA), rolling admissions, regular decision, and other deadlines.

Early Action (EA)

Students may submit early applications by the fall deadlines as outlined by individual school policy. This is a non-binding agreement, and students may submit early applications to other EA schools. 

Restrictive Early Action (REA) or Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA)

Under these programs, students may not submit ED or EA applications to other private colleges or universities. Results are received by mid-December and students have until May 1 of that following year to respond. Students may submit applications to public universities or to rolling and non-binding regular decision programs. Consult the school policy for details. 

Regular Decision

The regular decision plan generally has a late December, January, or February deadline.

Rolling Admissions

Colleges and universities will begin reviewing applications as they are received on a case-by-case basis. 

Immediate Decision Days – A few colleges offer a quick response through a personal admissions review. Immediate decision days generally occur on a Saturday and students will need to schedule an appointment with the admission office. Transcripts and application are usually forwarded in advance. 

Study the options offered by the schools on your list. Take note that within one college there may be different deadlines for different programs. Be clear on each deadline and your personal application timeline.