Early Decision/Early Action – What Are The Possible Outcomes?

Early DecisionAs you’re deciding whether to apply Early Decision or Early Action, you might be wondering how the colleges may respond to your application. 

So here are the options that colleges have in responding to your early application:

Admit:  YAY!  Pop the champagne!  You’re in!  

Defer:  Hold the phone – we aren’t done yet!  The college thinks you’re pretty nifty BUT they would like to see your first semester grades, and they’d like to reevaluate your application with the others who apply in the regular round.  

Deny:  Over and out – move on to other options.  

Here’s what you need to do in each of those situations:


  • Early Decision:  Pop the champagne and then withdraw your other applications – THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING!  That contract you signed is binding, and you are not permitted to wait to see your other results.  You got exactly what you wanted, so withdraw your apps to help your friends get into their dream schools, too.
  • Early Action:  Hold onto that acceptance and wait to see what other offers you get!  The best of all worlds.  Make a decision and put a deposit down by May 1.


  • Early Decision:  Follow the college’s instructions.  They may ask for mid-term grades (first semester).  They may ask you to submit an additional essay or letter of recommendation.  It’s ok to reach out to your regional admission counselor and express your continued interest; it’s ok to update them with a new accomplishment since you submitted but don’t reach out continually.  They may specifically ask you NOT to submit anything else.  Don’t give them anything they don’t want – they are already overloaded with stuff to read.
  • Early Action:  Same as above!  


Any time you are denied admission to a college, you should do your best not to take it personally.  They don’t know the human being you are; they know a small snapshot of what you’ve done in high school.  Since students are applying to more and more colleges, the level of competition has risen.  Colleges are looking for students who fit what they see as their needs.  Please don’t call them and ask why they rejected you, or tell them you think they made a big mistake.  Everything happens for a reason – know that you spent time building a balanced college list so that you will have choices that fit you academically, socially and emotionally.  

We know that the college admission journey can be hard on a teenager’s ego.  Building a solid list is truly the way to buffer what can sometimes result in disappointment.  If you’re looking for help with this process, please feel free to reach out for a free consultation.  This is the part that we love the most – helping families and students get great results!

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