What is Early Decision 2 (ED2)? When Does It Make Sense to Consider It and Which Colleges Offer It?

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Read What is Early Decision 2 (ED2)? When Does It Make Sense to Consider It and Which Colleges Offer It?

The Benefits of Early Decision 1 and 2 Applications — For Both Students and Colleges

Early Decision (ED) applications offer a significant advantage in the admissions process when it comes to your top-choice school. Most importantly, applying Early Decision 1 or 2 gives you an edge on your chances of admission because of the serious interest in a specific school it demonstrates. That’s because if you are accepted to a college through an ED application, you are obligated to attend. So, you can only apply ED1 or ED2 to one college. Colleges are eager to admit students who are excited about what their school has to offer in particular and also who will enroll at a rate of 100% as it serves to elevate their level of prestige by keeping their yield rates high (the percentage of students admitted who enroll) and their admissions rates low (by reducing the number of students accepted through Regular Decision applications). Note, however, that ED applicant pools still consist of high-achieving applicants and, as such, are still very competitive despite the higher acceptance rate

Gaining admission early has several benefits. It shortens the college application process, relieves the inherent anxiety, and allows you to focus more fully on your senior year courses, social life, and extracurricular pursuits as you finish high school and prepare for this important next chapter in your life.

We’ll discuss the Early Decision 2 application process to help you determine if you should consider it. Be aware that only about 70 schools currently offer the ED2 application option. Below is the list along with their application deadlines. Why do these schools offer it? They are motivated to further increase their yield rate and reduce their acceptance rate by admitting exceptional candidates who did not apply ED1, whatever the reason.

The Difference Between Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2

Early Decision 2, like ED1, entails a binding agreement and boasts the majority of the same benefits with the advantage of later application due dates in early January (around the same time as Regular Decision) and notification dates in February (about a month earlier than those for Regular Decision).

Early Decision 1 deadlines range from November 1 through November 15, with a majority falling on November 1. Applicants can expect ED1 responses in mid-December. The good news is that if you don’t get into your ED1 school, or if you weren’t able to apply ED1, you have another chance at applying Early Decision through ED2. 

When to Consider Applying Early Decision 2 and When Not To

With due dates at the beginning of January, you will have an additional two to two and half months to prepare an application for your ED2 school (whether you are doing so preemptively or as your first ED submission). If come mid-December, you’re reeling from a rejection or deferral from the ED1 school you were certain you’d get into, you still have two to four weeks, depending on the school, to apply ED2 to another top-choice school. Bear in mind it must be a school to which you did not already apply Early Decision or Early Action (which does not require a commitment to attend) and that if accepted, you will have to pull your candidacy from the Regular Decision pool if you were deferred by your ED1 college. You must also be in a position to afford the school’s tuition so make sure you understand the costs involved and how the financial aid packages they offer apply to you.

Because schools have already admitted many ED1 students and now know the number of Regular Decision applicants, they are less reliant on ED2 applicants to meet their target yield rates. Consequently, admittance rates for ED2 applications are not as high as those for ED1, but they are still higher than those for Regular Decision. Still, even a small percentage advantage can mean the difference between gaining admission to a top-choice school or having to settle on a fallback option.

ED2 applications can also benefit from the completion of a successful senior fall semester and the extra time to improve standardized test scores, study financial aid packages, demonstrate interest by visiting your ED2 school, participate in additional extracurricular activities, and assemble and present an even stronger application.

With some time for reflection, you may even discover that your ED2 school is a better fit overall than the one to which you applied ED1. Most important, only apply ED2 to your top-choice school, whether it’s your new top-choice school after a rejection, a new favorite after deferral by your ED1 school, or a top-choice school you missed the deadline for in the first early application round.

You Were Deferred or Rejected by Your ED2 school. Now what?

Try to stay positive while allowing yourself the necessary time to process the disappointing news and regroup. If deferred, make the school aware that they remain your top choice by sending a letter of continued interest and be sure to include any new information that may strengthen your candidacy. Whether deferred or rejected, plan on reacquainting yourself with the schools to which you applied Regular Decision. You may even consider visiting or even revisiting some to help give you extra confidence when it comes time to make this major decision in March.

List of Colleges and Universities Offering ED2

Institution Early Decision 2 Deadline
American University January 15
Babson College January 2
Bates College January 10
Bennington College January 15
Bentley University January 15
Boston University January 4
Bowdoin College January 5
Brandeis University January 3
Bryn Mawr College January 1
Bucknell University January 15
Carleton College January 15
Case Western Reserve University January 15
Claremont McKenna College January 10
Colby College January 1
Colgate University January 15
College of the Holy Cross January 15
College of William and Mary January 2
College of Wooster January 15
Colorado College January 15
Connecticut College January 15
Davidson College January 8
Denison College January 15
Dickinson College January 15
Emory University January 1
Franklin & Marshall College January 15
George Washington University January 5
Gettysburg College January 15
Grinnell College January 1
Hamilton College January 4
Harvey Mudd College January 5
Haverford College January 5
Hobart and William Smith Colleges January 15
Johns Hopkins University January 3
Kenyon College January 15
Lafayette College January 15
Lehigh University January 1
Macalester College January 1
Middlebury College January 3
Mount Holyoke College January 4
New York University January 15
Northeastern University January 1
Oberlin College January 2
Occidental College January 10
Pitzer College January 6
Pomona College January 8
Reed College December 20
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute December 15
Rhodes College January 15
Santa Clara University January 7
Sarah Lawrence College January 15
Scripps College January 5
Sewanee: The University of the South January 15
Skidmore College January 15
Smith College January 1
St. Olaf College January 15
Swarthmore College January 4
Trinity College January 14
Trinity University February 1
Tufts University January 4
Tulane University January 13
Union College January 15
University of Chicago January 4
University of Miami January 1
University of Richmond January 1
Vanderbilt University January 1
Vassar College January 1
Wake Forest University January 1
Washington and Lee University January 1
Washington University in St. Louis January 4
Wellesley College January 1
Wesleyan University January 1
Whitman College January 10


At AtomicMind, we have experts with decades of experience helping students and families strategically navigate the ED2 application process. Contact us for a free consultation to see how our expert advisors and coaches can help guide you on your educational journey.