ED? ED2? EA? REA? RD? Wondering what these mean? Here’s a helpful guide to understanding the different options and how they impact your application.
Let’s start with the most commonly thrown around term: ED. ED refers to Early Decision. ED, as the name suggests, is when a student applies to a school early and finds out whether they were successful early. The ED deadline for most schools is November 1, but some schools may extend until mid-November. Most schools offer students an option to ED, but some only allow EA (keep reading to find out more!)
Students may only apply to one school via Early Decision because it is binding, meaning that if a student is accepted via Early Decision, they must attend. Students will have to forfeit any other offers or applications to any other schools, no matter the geographical location (yes that’s right — even if you get an offer from Oxford!) The biggest advantage of Early Decision is that it increases the chances of acceptance because it shows the student’s commitment to the school.
Some schools also offer a second round of Early Decision — ED2. The ED2 deadline coincides with Regular Decision (RD), usually on January 1. ED2 gives students a second chance to show their commitment to a school. The same rules still apply: it is still binding, and you can still only ED2 to one school.
While many of our students do apply ED to increase their chances at their top choice university, it is always a strategic choice. Applying ED is not a sure win; it can result in an acceptance, a rejection, or something called a deferral. A deferral is when the school pushes the applicant’s ED application into the regular round, meaning that the student is still being considered, but no longer within the same early applicant pool.
Shows commitment to top choice university
If accepted, won’t need to work on more applications
Increased admission rate
What’s the deal with Early Action (EA), then? EA is also when a student applies to a school early, but the difference is that EA is non-binding. EA applications are usually due at the same time as ED, but not all schools offer EA. The biggest benefit of EA is similar to that of ED — it demonstrates a student’s interest in the school. Students may apply to as many EA schools as they wish, so long as they are not Restricted Early Action (REA) schools.
REA is similar to EA in the sense that it is still non-binding, however students can only apply to one REA school (but they can still apply EA to public schools like UMichigan). That may sound a little bit confusing, but there are only 7 schools that offer REA: Georgetown, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford.
Most of our students will also apply EA to some schools. Applying EA is can often be a good option for students to secure a spot at a university earlier, so that we can be more aggressive with the rest of their college list during the Regular Decision (RD) round.
Demonstrates interest to schools
If accepted, students will have a secured spot
at a school
Last but not least, there is Regular Decision (RD). Most of the schools on a student’s college list will be applied via RD. You can RD to as many schools as you want, as long as it is within the limit set by your high school. This is the “pool” that deferred ED applications go to. Traditionally, the deadline has always been January 1 for most schools, but since COVID, schools have pushed RD deadlines from Jan 4 all the way to Jan 15! Because of that, it is important for all applicants to double-check the submission deadlines.
Later deadline, more time to work on applications
No increased admission rate
Longer application period (as compared to Early applicants)
With that being said, applying ED, EA, or REA should be deliberate choices, not default options. Many students think that because ED increases an applicant’s chance of getting into a school that they should definitely do it. As consultants, one thing we emphasize is making sure that firstly, the school that a student is applying ED to is the right one, and secondly, it is the right strategy. The same goes for EA and REA!
Quantum Prep is an education consultancy that focuses on placing their students at the best colleges or universities. We boast of diverse results. In addition to the traditional rap sheet of prestigious university acceptances, our consultants like to highlight the different paths they have sent students on. All of our students are different; we are proud of our one-on-one tailored approach towards university counselling. Contact us for a complimentary 30-minute initial meeting, where you can get tailored individualized advice on how to put your best foot forward. Read our reviews to see what our clients think of us.
By Sabrina Ma, Admissions Consultant