ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled Saved to Favorites.
Articles / Applying to College / Will Colleges Know If I Apply to More Than One School Early?

Oct. 12, 2020

Will Colleges Know If I Apply to More Than One School Early?

Will Colleges Know If I Apply to More Than One School Early?

Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

I have a question about Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA). I am thinking of applying restrictive early action (REA) to Harvard or ED to Duke. Both obviously have limitations about where else I can apply. Ideally I'd like to do REA at Harvard, but even if I do that, I would possibly miss the regular decision deadline at Duke (Dec. 20 if I want an interview) before I hear from Harvard ("mid-December"). So in trying to line these up I'm getting frustrated and I wanted to ask how will a college know if I just end up applying to both an REA and an ED program? It's not that I'm trying to hedge my bets, it's just that I want to be able to have both options and the timing is terrible with all these dates.

The Harvard Single-Choice Early Action restrictions only prohibit you from applying to other colleges via an early application option (with the exception of public or international institutions). So you can submit your Duke Regular Decision application any time in order to make sure you meet the December 20 priority deadline for interviews. However, if you don't want to spend the extra bucks on a Duke application fee should you get good news from Harvard, rest assured that "The Dean" would bet the mortgage money that your Harvard verdict will arrive before your December 20 cutoff.

As you surely know, however, you cannot apply via REA to Harvard and ED to Duke. An ethical school counselor will never sign off on concurrent ED and Single-Choice EA applications. But when a counselor is clueless about the rules and allows this misconduct, the college folks may find out in assorted ways. If you decide to take a chance that you won't get caught, you could risk losing your spot at both places if you are.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

Share Your Thoughts

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

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


National Merit Qualifying Scores May Look Different This Year

In the past, about 1.5 million high school students a year enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT, but …

National Merit Top-Choice Colleges

National Merit Top-Choice Colleges

Question: How should I decide which school to put down for my National Merit first-choice college? Should I name a school where I…

When Is the Best Time to Start Thinking About College Admission?

When Can I Start Applying To College?

With college admission being more competitive than ever, it seems that many students and parents are starting to think about coll…

Why [This College]: An Essay That's Never Optional

Why [This College]: An Essay That's Never Optional

Supplemental essays have been around for generations, and there’s a good reason: they enable admissions officers to see just how …


Developing Your College List: How Many Schools is Enough?

As you work on your Common App, you may be wondering...how many colleges should I apply to?

Here in the very competitive New York …

A-Z College Forums

Browse the College Forums

Find Your Best Fit

Find your best fit college and track your favorite colleges.