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You've Applied Early Decision to a College - Now What?

> You've Applied Early Decision to a College - Now What?
Blake Mischley
• Updated: October 31, 2023 • 16 min read

Congratulations! You've taken a big step in your college journey by applying Early Decision. This means you've made a binding commitment to your top-choice school and now eagerly await their decision. But what comes next?
In this blog post, we will guide you through the next steps after submitting your Early Decision application, whether you receive an acceptance, deferral, or rejection. So, let's dive in and ensure you are well-prepared for what lies ahead in your academic journey.

Understanding Early Decision: What It Means for You

Early Decision is a college application process that differs from regular decision or early action in several key ways. It is essential to understand what Early Decision means for you as an applicant before moving forward in the college admissions process.

What is Early Decision?

Early Decision is an option offered by many colleges and universities that allows students to apply early and receive an admission decision sooner than regular decision applicants. However, it is important to note that Early Decision is a binding commitment. If you are accepted under Early Decision, you are obligated to enroll at that particular institution and withdraw all other college applications.

Benefits of Early Decision

1- Demonstrated Interest: Applying Early Decision shows a high level of interest and commitment to the school. Colleges often value this dedication and may view Early Decision applicants more favorably during the admissions process.

2- Higher Acceptance Rates: Many colleges have a higher acceptance rate for Early Decision applicants compared to regular decision applicants. This is because Early Decision candidates have demonstrated a strong preference for the school, which increases their chances of being admitted.

3- Early Decision Advantage: By applying early, you receive your admission decision earlier than regular decision applicants. This allows you to plan and prepare for your college transition well in advance.

Considerations Before Applying Early Decision

Before deciding to apply Early Decision, there are a few important factors to consider:

1- Researching the College: Make sure you thoroughly research and visit the college or university you are considering before committing to Early Decision. Ensure it aligns with your academic, financial, and personal goals.

2- Financial Implications: Early Decision is a binding commitment, so it is crucial to carefully review the financial aid policies of the institution. Understand the implications of the financial aid package offered and ensure it aligns with your needs.

3- Backup Options: While Early Decision can be an excellent opportunity, it is important to have backup options in case you are not accepted. Research and identify other colleges that match your interests and goals to ensure you have alternatives available.

Understanding the Early Decision process and its implications will help you make an informed decision when applying to colleges. Now that you have a clear understanding of Early Decision, let's explore what you should do after submitting your Early Decision application.

What to Do After Submitting Your Early Decision Application

After submitting your Early Decision application, there are several important steps to take to ensure you are making the most of this time while awaiting the admission decision. In this section, we will discuss the actions you should take to continue your senior year strong, prepare financially for college, and explore backup options.

Continuing Your Senior Year Strong

1- Maintain Your Academic Performance: Even though you have submitted your application, it is crucial to continue putting effort into your studies. Colleges may request mid-year or final transcripts, so maintaining good grades is important.

2- Engage in Meaningful Extracurricular Activities: Use this time to continue participating in extracurricular activities that align with your interests and showcase your strengths. This can include clubs, sports, community service, or leadership positions.

3- Seek Out Leadership Opportunities: Take on leadership roles within your extracurricular activities or initiate projects that demonstrate your leadership skills. This can help strengthen your college application and showcase your potential.

4- Stay Involved in Your Community: Continue volunteering or engaging in community service projects. Not only does this make a positive impact, but it also demonstrates your commitment to making a difference.

Preparing Financially for College

1- Research Financial Aid Options: Familiarize yourself with the financial aid options available at the college or university you applied to. Explore scholarships, grants, and loans that can help make college more affordable.

2- Complete the FAFSA: If you haven't done so already, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form determines your eligibility for federal financial aid programs and is a crucial step in the financial aid process.

3- Research Private Scholarships: Look for private scholarships that you may be eligible for. There are numerous scholarship opportunities available based on various criteria, such as academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, or specific interests.

4- Discuss Financial Planning with Your Family: Have open and honest discussions with your family about college costs and how you plan to finance your education. Explore options such as college savings accounts, part-time jobs, or payment plans.

Exploring Backup Options

1- Research Other Colleges: While applying Early Decision indicates your strong preference for a particular college, it is wise to have backup options in case you are not accepted. Research other colleges that align with your interests and goals and consider applying to them as well.

2- Understand Regular Decision Deadlines: Familiarize yourself with the regular decision application deadlines for other colleges you are interested in. Ensure you have enough time to complete their applications and gather any necessary documents.

3- Seek Guidance from Your School Counselor: Consult with your school counselor to discuss your backup options and receive guidance on how to proceed. They can provide valuable insight and support throughout the college application process.

By continuing your senior year strong, preparing financially for college, and exploring backup options, you are taking proactive steps to ensure a smooth transition to higher education, regardless of the outcome of your Early Decision application.

When Do Early Decision Decisions Come Out?

Early Decision decisions come out earlier than regular admission responses, but the exact timing varies by school. A significant number of institutions release their Early Decision results in mid-December, though some may notify applicants as early as late November or as late as February.

A notable date for many applicants is "Ivy Day," when all eight Ivy League schools release their admission decisions, including those for Early Decision. This day usually falls at the end of March and is a significant event for applicants who have their sights set on these prestigious institutions. However, it's crucial to verify the specific date directly with the institution you've applied to, as not all schools follow the same schedule, and some may choose to release their decisions earlier or on a different day.

To stay informed, you should regularly check the school's admissions website, monitor your email, and maintain contact with the admissions office. This ensures you're up-to-date with the latest information and any potential changes to the decision release timeline. Remember, each school's admissions timeline is unique, and knowing the key dates for your chosen institutions is essential as you navigate the path ahead.

How to Respond to an Early Decision Acceptance

Receiving an acceptance letter for your Early Decision application is an exciting moment. It means that your top-choice college has recognized your potential and is offering you a spot in their incoming class. In this section, we will guide you through the steps you should take to respond to an Early Decision acceptance and begin the enrollment process.

Understanding Your Commitment

1- Read the Acceptance Letter Carefully: Take the time to thoroughly read and understand the acceptance letter. Pay attention to any specific instructions or deadlines mentioned.

2- Review the Terms of Early Decision: Familiarize yourself with the terms of the Early Decision agreement. Understand that by accepting the offer, you are committing to enroll at that particular college and withdraw all other college applications.

3- Evaluate Financial Aid Package: Review the financial aid package provided by the college. Consider whether it meets your financial needs and discuss any concerns or questions with the financial aid office.

4- Seek Clarification if Needed: If there is anything in the acceptance letter or terms of Early Decision that you do not fully understand, reach out to the admissions office for clarification. It is important to have a clear understanding of your obligations and next steps.

Beginning the Enrollment Process

1- Submit Enrollment Deposit: Most colleges require an enrollment deposit to secure your spot in the incoming class. Make sure to submit the deposit by the specified deadline to guarantee your enrollment.

2- Complete Enrollment Forms: Fill out any enrollment forms required by the college, such as housing applications, health forms, and registration for orientation programs. Pay attention to deadlines and provide accurate information.

3- Notify Other Colleges: Once you have accepted the Early Decision offer, promptly withdraw your applications from all other colleges. This allows those institutions to offer admission spots to other applicants.

4- Notify Your Guidance Counselor: Inform your high school guidance counselor of your acceptance and provide them with any necessary documentation or forms they may need to complete.

Planning Your Transition to College Life

1- Attend Admitted Student Events: Take advantage of any admitted student events or orientation programs offered by the college. These events provide an opportunity to connect with future classmates, explore campus facilities, and learn more about academic programs and student life.

2- Consider Housing Options: Research and apply for on-campus housing if applicable. Explore roommate selection processes, housing preferences, and any required forms or deposits.

3- Connect with Current Students or Alumni: Reach out to current students or alumni of the college to ask questions and gain insights about campus life, academics, and extracurricular opportunities.

4- Prepare for College Transition: Start making a checklist of items you will need for college, such as dorm essentials, textbooks, and supplies. Begin planning your move-in logistics and consider attending any pre-college preparation programs offered by the college.

Responding to an Early Decision acceptance is a pivotal moment in your college journey. By understanding your commitment, completing the enrollment process, and planning for your transition to college life, you can ensure a smooth and successful start to this exciting chapter. However, if you receive a deferral or rejection, don't worry. In the next section, we will discuss what to do in those situations and how to navigate your college options.

What to Do If You're Deferred or Rejected

Receiving a deferral or rejection letter for your Early Decision application can be disheartening, but it is important to remember that it is not the end of your college journey. In this section, we will discuss what steps you can take if you are deferred or rejected, including dealing with disappointment, reevaluating your college choices, and boosting your application for regular decision.

Dealing with Disappointment

1- Give Yourself Time to Process: Allow yourself to feel disappointed or upset about the decision. It is natural to have strong emotions, but remember that this is just one part of your college journey.

2- Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or a trusted mentor who can provide emotional support during this time. Having someone to talk to can help you process your feelings and gain perspective.

3- Maintain Perspective: Remember that college admissions decisions are not a reflection of your worth or potential. Admissions officers have to make difficult choices, and sometimes it comes down to factors beyond your control.

Reevaluating Your College Choices

1- Reflect on Your Goals and Priorities: Take some time to reflect on your academic and personal goals. Consider what factors are most important to you in a college experience, such as location, size, academic programs, extracurricular offerings, or campus culture.

2- Research Other Colleges: Explore other colleges that align with your interests and goals. Look for schools that offer similar programs or have attributes that appeal to you. Take the opportunity to learn about new schools and consider them as potential options.

3- Reach Out to Admissions Offices: If you are still interested in attending the college that deferred you, reach out to the admissions office to express your continued interest. They may appreciate your dedication and provide guidance on how to strengthen your application.

Boosting Your Application for Regular Decision

1- Improve Your Grades and Test Scores: If there are areas of your application that can be strengthened, focus on improving your academic performance or retaking standardized tests to potentially raise your scores.

2- Enhance Your Extracurricular Involvement: Take on leadership roles or engage in new meaningful extracurricular activities that align with your interests and showcase your skills and passions.

3- Seek Additional Recommendations: Consider reaching out to teachers, mentors, or community leaders who can provide strong letters of recommendation highlighting your abilities, character, and potential.

4- Refine Your Personal Statement: Take the opportunity to revise and refine your personal statement or essay to better showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations.

Remember, being deferred or rejected does not define your future success. Use this setback as an opportunity to reassess your goals, explore new options, and strengthen your application for regular decision. In the next section, we will discuss how to prepare for the next steps in your academic journey, whether that is making the most of your senior year or getting ready for college academics and social life.

Preparing for the Next Steps in Your Academic Journey

As you navigate through your senior year and prepare for college, it is essential to focus on the next steps in your academic journey. This section will guide you on making the most of your senior year, getting ready for college academics, and looking forward to college social life.

Making the Most of Your Senior Year

1- Stay Engaged in Your Studies: Maintain your academic focus and strive for strong performance in your senior year. Colleges often request mid-year or final transcripts, so it is important to finish strong.

2- Take Challenging Courses: If possible, challenge yourself by enrolling in advanced or honors courses that align with your interests and college aspirations. This demonstrates your commitment to academic growth.

3- Explore Elective Courses: Use your senior year to explore areas of interest outside your core subjects. Take electives that align with your passions or introduce you to new areas of knowledge.

4- Engage in Meaningful Extracurricular Activities: Continue participating in extracurricular activities that you enjoy and that contribute to your personal growth. This can include clubs, sports, artistic pursuits, or community service.

Getting Ready for College Academics

1- Research Your Degree Program: If you have decided on a major or area of study, research the specific requirements and courses associated with that program. Familiarize yourself with the curriculum and any prerequisites.

2- Take College-Level Courses: If available, consider taking advanced placement (AP) or dual enrollment courses to get a taste of college-level academics. These courses can also earn you college credits and give you a head start.

3- Develop Time Management Skills: College requires good time management skills. Use your senior year to practice effective time management techniques, such as creating schedules, prioritizing tasks, and balancing academic and extracurricular commitments.

4- Improve Study Habits: Reflect on your study habits and identify areas where you can improve. Experiment with different study techniques, such as creating study guides, practicing active learning, or seeking peer collaboration.

Looking Forward to College Social Life

1- Connect with Future Classmates: Join social media groups or online forums where you can connect and engage with other incoming freshmen. This allows you to build relationships and get to know your future classmates. Find your college and connect with other students through MeetYourClass!

2- Attend College Orientation: Take advantage of any orientation programs offered by your college. These events provide an opportunity to meet fellow students, learn about campus resources, and get acquainted with campus life.

3- Explore Campus Clubs and Organizations: Research the various clubs and organizations available on campus. Consider joining clubs or groups that align with your interests, as they can provide opportunities for personal growth, friendship, and leadership.

4- Embrace New Experiences: College is a time to explore new experiences and broaden your horizons. Be open to trying new activities, attending campus events, and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Preparing for the next steps in your academic journey involves making the most of your senior year, getting ready for college academics, and looking forward to the social aspects of college life. By staying engaged, researching your degree program, and embracing new experiences, you will be well-prepared to embark on this exciting chapter of your life.

Final Thoughts

In the journey toward higher education, submitting an Early Decision application is a bold and decisive step, reflecting your commitment and clarity of purpose. As you await the admissions decision, remember that this period is not just a countdown but a valuable time to further develop your academic and extracurricular profile. Whether the outcome is an acceptance, deferral, or rejection, each holds a lesson and a pathway to growth. Embrace this phase with optimism and resilience, knowing that it is one of many steps towards achieving your educational and life goals. As we conclude, bear in mind that every decision is a new beginning, and with the right mindset, preparation, and resources, you are well-equipped to succeed in whatever comes next on your academic journey.


I hope you found this guide useful. Navigating campus life can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Once you're accepted into college, hop onto MeetYourClass – your go-to platform to find roommates, friends, and your community. Connect with like-minded students, find your perfect roommate, and immerse yourself in campus culture. As you embark on your application journey, remember: your next chapter of friendships and experiences is just a click away. Best of luck, and we hope to see you soon on MeetYourClass!

Chief of Content @ MeetYourClass. University of Michigan '25.
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