Admissions

Can I Get Away with Applying to Two Early Decision Schools at Once?

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If I apply binding Early Decision (ED) to my first choice, how will they know if I apply binding ED somewhere else? Chances are that they won't both accept me. I know it's considered to be unethical, but will they REALLY know?


When a student applies Early Decision, he or she must sign a statement committing to enrolling if admitted (unless the student receives an inadequate financial aid award and can then bail out without penalty). So obviously, it would be highly unethical to make this pledge to two colleges at once. But, above all, your counselor must also sign an ED statement confirming that you are committing to just one ED school. So unless your counselor is unscrupulous (hopefully not) or completely clueless (unfortunate but possible), you will not be able to submit a signed ED counselor statement or a school transcript to more than one ED choice.

But let's say that you somehow slipped under the radar and managed to apply to two ED colleges concurrently. In that case, you will not only be acting dishonorably, but also you may be setting yourself up for big-time trouble. A number of colleges share the names of their accepted ED students with other colleges. So if you are admitted to either of two ED schools, the admission officials at the other one might see your name and compare it to the roster of its own ED candidates. When those college folks spot your name on that list, they will notify the college that said yes to you, and your acceptance will be rescinded.

Thus, applying ED to more than one college is a really lousy idea. What you can do, however, is to see if an ED II option is offered at either of these favorite schools. If so, then apply ED I to one of them, and -- if you're denied (or even deferred) -- apply ED II to the second. This is actually a very common gambit, and there's nothing shady about trying it.

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