What are the drawbacks to Early Decision round 2?

By Maxine Seya

“Now that the ED I cycle is over, what are the drawbacks to applying ED II? Not sure what we should do.”

– Leanne, mom of a high school senior

The deal with both Early Decision I (submit in Nov. for a mid-Dec. decision) and Early Decision II (submit in Jan. for a mid-Feb. decision) is that  in exchange for getting an early response, your kid must attend the school if accepted.

There are contracts and all that to bind you to the decision, hence the term we see online “ED is binding.

If she’s absolutely positive about being a student at that school and you are perfectly happy to pay whatever price they want, then there are very few drawbacks.

Many colleges value ED applicants a little more than RD (Regular Decision: submit in Jan. for a March/April decision). Committed students help colleges better predict costs and also boost the institution’s yield (percentage of admits who matriculate) which boosts the college’s rankings. 

For the class of 2025 entering in 2021, 53% of Boston University undergrads will come from ED I and II, for example.

If your kid gets in ED II, which can be likelier than getting in RD especially at schools known to value demonstrated interest, your anxiety-riddled spring season will be over three months before everyone else’s.

Maybe one downside would be your kid feeling so excited about a dream college acceptance in February that she stops caring about the remaining four months of school. It’s hard enough to concentrate in a virtual classroom setting, much less knowing that everything she’s worked for as a K-12 student has been rewarded. Party time.

If she’s not absolutely sure where she sees herself next year and if you have a price tag limit, then applying ED II could have multiple drawbacks. Many students who wanted to run away from an exhausting season of college apps have experienced:

Being unhappy at school

Let’s say your kid gets in and attends the school she’s bound to. She then realizes she’s unhappy there and feels trapped. It’s another round of super stressful college apps, this time as a transfer juggling a rigorous college course load instead of just high school academics. If you haven’t at least virtually visited the school, talked to some current students, faculty members, and alums, or researched nearby jobs or extracurriculars, you’re far from opting for ED II. You have to make sure what your kid wants is what the school offers. What she can offer is what the school wants. This is what admissions people call “fit.” And you have to make sure “fit” exists before committing to a school.

Paying too much

Applying Regular Decision allows you to compare financial aid among all the schools that accept your kid. You can always say “no” to the expensive ones and pick the most affordable within the pile of “Congratulations!” letters.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.