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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Get Away with Applying to Two Early Decision Schools at Once?

Oct. 16, 2019

Can I Get Away with Applying to Two Early Decision Schools at Once?

Can I Get Away with Applying to Two Early Decision Schools at Once?

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If I apply binding Early Decision (ED) to my first choice, how will they know if I apply binding ED somewhere else? Chances are that they won't both accept me. I know it's considered to be unethical, but will they REALLY know?


When a student applies Early Decision, he or she must sign a statement committing to enrolling if admitted (unless the student receives an inadequate financial aid award and can then bail out without penalty). So obviously, it would be highly unethical to make this pledge to two colleges at once. But, above all, your counselor must also sign an ED statement confirming that you are committing to just one ED school. So unless your counselor is unscrupulous (hopefully not) or completely clueless (unfortunate but possible), you will not be able to submit a signed ED counselor statement or a school transcript to more than one ED choice.

But let's say that you somehow slipped under the radar and managed to apply to two ED colleges concurrently. In that case, you will not only be acting dishonorably, but also you may be setting yourself up for big-time trouble. A number of colleges share the names of their accepted ED students with other colleges. So if you are admitted to either of two ED schools, the admission officials at the other one might see your name and compare it to the roster of its own ED candidates. When those college folks spot your name on that list, they will notify the college that said yes to you, and your acceptance will be rescinded.

Thus, applying ED to more than one college is a really lousy idea. What you can do, however, is to see if an ED II option is offered at either of these favorite schools. If so, then apply ED I to one of them, and -- if you're denied (or even deferred) -- apply ED II to the second. This is actually a very common gambit, and there's nothing shady about trying it.

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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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