When Are College Applications Due Early Decision?

You’ve decided that you know the one school that is, by far, your top choice, and you want to apply Early Decision. But when do you apply? What is the Early Decision application deadline? Well, it varies by school, but you can plan that Early Decision applications are due sometime between October 15th to the end of November – and sometimes even into December. Let’s break it down.

General Early Decision Deadline Information

In general, many Early Decision deadlines are on or around November 1. But, don’t count on that. You HAVE to look at the college’s website and confirm EXACTLY when their Early Decision deadline is. If you miss that date, there is no going back. You are out of that Early Decision pool and will have to apply during Regular Decision.

Not Every College Offers Early Decision

It is important to note that not every school offers the option to apply Early Decision. Many colleges don’t, so check to be sure that the college you are looking to apply to in this way offers this type of application.

Know the Early Decision Contract Requirements

You should know that for Early Decision, if you gain acceptance, you are contractually required to ais when you apply Early Decision.

Plan Your Early Decision Application Strategy

Once you know that the school you are 100% sure that you want to attend offers Early Decision, and you understand all of the requirements in doing so, begin to plan and back into when you need to start working on fulfilling all of your application requirements. If you’ve read any of my blogs to date, you know there is a common theme: do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Well, applying Early Decision epitomizes this. Why? Because if you are applying Early Decision, it is clear that this school is very important to you and you want to be 100% sure you set up everything in your application to not only be correct but presented for the best opportunity for success. Follow the steps below to be sure you complete everything you need to in its final form (checked and double checked) way ahead of the Early Decision deadline.

Steps To Take To Apply Early Decision

1) Draft and finalize your resume, which includes all of your activities in high school in which you participated and the average amount of hours per week and weeks per year you spent doing so. See our blog post on developing your resume

2) Prior to August 1, complete the general portion of the Common App if the college you are applying to participates in this platform. If they only participate through the Coalition Application, then complete the general portion of this application. Hint: you will need your resume for this.

3) Work on and complete to its final form, no later than the end of July prior to your senior year, your primary essay/personal statement. This is the one that goes to all of your schools. See our blog post on How to Write a Good Essay

4) Call the college you are applying to Early Decision and ask if their supplemental essays will be changing this upcoming application season (if they have supplemental essays). If their response is no, then begin working on their current supplemental essays as soon as your junior year in high school is completed and finish these prior to August 1.

5) Ask 2-3 of your teachers from sophomore or junior year, with at least one being from your junior year, for letters of recommendation during April/May of your junior year. If your school uses Naviance for letters of recommendation, add the teachers that said yes to writing them to your Naviance account.

6) On, or just after, August 1, log back into your Common App and convert your application over to the current year’s application. Complete any additional information that is needed, add the school that you are applying to Early Decision (and any other schools that you will be applying to), complete their school-specific application questions, copy in any supplemental essay(s) that you completed, as well as copy in your primary essay to the Common App.

7) Add your college(s) to Naviance. If they are on the Common App, you should be able to just MATCH your account and they will all appear on your list. Be sure that you edit the application type to state that you are applying Early Decision.

8) You, and someone else who you respect, trust and who has a good eye for reviewing documents, needs to check over the entire application for accuracy and correctness.

9) Submit your application, doing so prior to August 31 if you can, before you even head back to school. You are ready!

10) Submit your test scores (ACT/SAT), if applicable. If you are taking them in September or, the latest, early October, make sure you submit them immediately once you receive your scores and you decide which scores to send.

11) Complete and submit the paperwork to your high school to let them know that you will be applying Early Decision to this one college, and include any of your other schools as well. They need to know this so they are sure to send your official transcript and any other paperwork that is requested (e.g., your letters of recommendation) for your application prior to the deadline.

12) After you have submitted everything, follow up until you have confirmed with your colleges that they have received everything that they require to review your application. Don’t leave this to chance! This one is up to you, not them!

Good luck with completing and submitting your application to apply Early Decision! If you follow the timeline and the above steps you will do so with plenty of time to spare. Enjoy!

Looking for help with the college application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone and by email.