Dec. 22, 2021
Question: If I apply to a college through Early Decision or Early Action, but I am not accepted, can I apply again through Regular Decision?
If you are denied outright ("rejected") in the Early Decision or Early Action round, then you CANNOT reapply. In most cases, if a college thinks that you are at least a borderline candidate but they aren't willing to commit to you during the Early Action or Early Decision process, they will "defer" you and then reevaluate your credentials with the Regular Decision pool. (I said, "In most cases" because there are a handful of colleges, such as New York University, that do not ever defer Early applicants ... they only admit or deny them.)
If you are deferred via ED or EA, you do not have to reapply. The college will automatically consider you along with the Regular Decision candidates. However, you would be wise to stay in touch with admission officials after a deferral by sending an update letter that highlights your accomplishments since you initially submitted your application.
Although a denial in the Early round is disappointing, the silver lining to this cloud is that it can help you to reset your sights while there is still time and to position yourself to get good news in the spring from a college you're truly excited about.
A version of this Ask the Dean article originally appeared in 2021
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