ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Applying to College / Why Can Students Apply Early Action & Early Decision Concurrently?

Why Can Students Apply Early Action & Early Decision Concurrently?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 18, 2015

Question: So why do schools let kids who are applying Early Decision elsewhere apply Early Action?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to disqualify EA applications while an ED application is pending?  Or is it more important to spread out the workload by encouraging early submissions than to reduce the workload by making sure that the applicants aren’t already committed elsewhere?

There are a handful of colleges … mostly hyper-selective ones … that prohibit Early Action candidates from applying Early Decision elsewhere (and a few of these prohibit candidates from applying Early ANYTHING elsewhere). High schools, however, never impose such restrictions. These come from the colleges themselves.

As a college counselor and also as a parent, I don’t have any problem with a policy that allows students to mix Early Action applications with an Early Decision bid, as long as the student understands that–if admitted to the ED school–he or she MUST attend (barring financial aid inadequacies, of course).

This is a particularly helpful approach when a student is aiming for a “Reach” college in the ED round. I think it’s a big stress-reducer when students who are denied or deferred ED get good news from an EA (or Rolling Admissions) institution at about the same time. And allowing the ED kids to pursue EA options also means that they already will have completed some other applications when the ED verdict rolls in. It’s bad enough to get turned away from a first-choice college in December, but it sucks exponentially more to get shut out via ED and then to have to spend the holiday break writing a dozen essays!

There is so much to hate about the admission process that I could go on and on for hours (well, more like days … or weeks!), but concurrent ED/EA is not on my Most Heinous list. Although one could argue that an EA applicant who is accepted ED elsewhere has taken a spot at the EA college from a student who really wants it, you could make that same argument about any student who applies to any college that is not a top choice. So, if I ruled the world (or at least the admissions world), I would limit the number of colleges that each student could apply to (eight is the figure I have in mind). This would spur students to make more thoughtful college rosters and would bring down acceptance rates because there would be fewer students saying “No thanks” to admission offers. But, in the meantime, if students want to apply to multiple EA colleges and then throw an ED school into the mix as well, I have no complaints. There are too many OTHER issues to whine about!


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.

More on Applying to College

See all
typing at computer- karolina-grabowska-6958506-resized

Authentic Voice in College Essays

That’s why you want to use your authentic voice when writing any college essay.

So what’s the problem? A student has shared an ess…


College Interview Prep Tips: Brainstorm, Research, Analyze, Generalize

I recently visited Washington University in Saint Louis and was lucky enough to set up an interview. By speaking with peers of mi…

campus gates

Academic Index Scores: Why They Matter and How They're Calculated

Note: Click here for 10 Summer Programs You Can Still Apply For or keep reading to learn more about academic index scores.

8 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

7 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

Podcasts can offer a wealth of information to busy students, particularly when it comes to the college admissions process. We…


Avoid College Application Regrets: Tips For Getting It Right the First Time

Decision Day occurs each year on May 1st and is the deadline for students to inform the college of their choice of their intent t…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship