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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Apply Early Twice?

Oct. 12, 2021

Can I Apply Early Twice?

Question: I am planning on applying early decision to my first-choice college. I will be notified of my status by December 31st. My second-choice college has an early decision deadline of January 1st. If I do not get accepted by my first-choice college, would it be appropriate for me to apply early decision to my second-choice college?


Yes, this is a "strategy" that students use successfully all the time. The only thing that may be tough for you is this: if you are deferred by your first-choice school and not denied outright in December, you may always wonder if you should have waited for the regular-decision round.

However, if your #2 choice is a close second and you want to get the admission process out of the way as soon as possible (can't blame you there!), you will certainly boost your chances of acceptance to College #2 by applying ED, and thus this seems like a reasonable plan.

By the way, there are some colleges that share lists of admitted early applicants, but if you don't get into your first-choice college, then your second-choice school should have no way of knowing that you applied elsewhere already.

A previous version of this article first appeared in March 2004

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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