E.D. II: The Not-So-Early Decision
The New York Times
Sunday, November 1, 2015
By Eric Hoover
This week, thousands of students will click "submit" on their early-decision applications, hoping for a thumbs-up from their first-choice college. With competition for slots ever increasing, let's assume the worst: You don't get in. What then? For those eager to get off the college admissions carousel, there's a second chance at an acceptance before spring: early decision II.
E.D. II is "definitely on more people's radar," said Steven Roy Goodman, an independent educational consultant in Washington. More than half the students he advises plan on applying E.D. II, if necessary. "As early decision becomes a little more competitive," he said, "it's not illogical for people to focus on both E.D. I and E.D. II."
E.D. II benefits colleges, too. The more slots filled through binding early decision, the higher the yield (the percentage of accepted students who go on to enroll), a conventional measure of desirability. E.D. II also lets colleges evaluate early birds rejected by their first choice. That future valedictorian denied by Amherst might look irresistible to other colleges.
For students without a "hook" that helps them stand out, E.D. II may not be as good a bet as E.D. I. Generally, applying early improves your chances. But E.D. I pools tend to be bigger and have stronger applicants, so schools take fewer students in the second round. For this year's freshman class, for instance, Hamilton College accepted 42 percent of E.D. I applicants, and 32 percent of E.D. II applicants. The regular-decision pool was even more competitive, with 23 percent receiving offers. Pomona's figures support the trend: It accepted 21 percent of applicants E.D. I, and 17 percent E.D. II. Regular-decision acceptance rate: 9 percent.
Although nobody recommends taking the commitment lightly, students can withdraw if the offer falls short of their needs. Figure out what you can pay before an acceptance materializes, says Robert J. Massa, senior vice president for enrollment and institutional planning at Drew University, which offers both E.D. I and II.
"If the college makes it affordable, the search is over," he said, "but if it does not, the search continues."