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Articles / Applying to College / Applying to More than One Early Decision College?

Applying to More than One Early Decision College?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 29, 2014

Question: I would like to make an enquiry from you. I will highly appreciate a response. is there any risk if I apply to more than one school under the early decision plan? if yes, what are the penalties? thank you

It is a breach of Early Decision policy (and a breach of ethics as well) to apply to more than one ED college. In theory, this should never happen because guidance counselors are required to sign off on a pledge that confirms that the student has chosen only one ED institution.

But sometimes inexperienced counselors overlook the rules or may be confused because — in most cases–a student CAN apply to an Early Decision college and an Early Action college (or even several) at the same time, with the understanding that, if accepted at the ED school, the student will enroll regardless of other options … unless financial aid is inadequate. (Exception: The handful of colleges that offer “Single Choice Early Action” don’t permit concurrent Early Decision applications.)

You CAN, however, apply to an Early Decision college in the first round of ED and then to a different college that offers ED II, but only afteryou’ve received your verdict from the ED I school and you’ve learned that you’ve been denied or deferred (or admitted with insufficient financial aid and thus you’ve already turned down the offer).

If a student applies to more than one Early Decision college at the same time, it’s very possible that this violation will come to light, and the student will not be accepted at EITHER school (or if the student has ALREADY been accepted, the offer of admission will be rescinded.)

There is a group of colleges that share the names of admitted Early Decision students. (They only do this AFTER the ED students have been accepted and have confirmed enrollment.) While not all students who ignore their ED pledge and apply to multiple ED colleges will be caught, those who ARE caught will pay a steep price … and not just in karma!


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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