How to Prepare for Early Decision and Early Action Results

Colleges will be releasing Early Decision and Early Action results over the next several days. For many students, they are awaiting results on their top choice college or one of their top choices. While students sometimes feel this decision will define their future, this is just one moment in time. Parents can help their child prepare, process, and respond to these decisions in a way that will build on their character and growth:

  1. Most colleges release decisions electronically. Make sure login information is at your fingertips in order to access the decision when it becomes available. Students should have received this information electronically when they submitted their application. If not, they can contact the admissions office.
  2. Colleges will most likely give students a heads up a day or two in advance letting them know when they will be releasing decisions. Again, notification is usually done electronically.
  3. If the family applied for financial aid, they may receive their award letter at the time of acceptance or at a later date. Check with the college’s admissions office to find out when this is provided.
  4. There are three decisions that can result from Early Decision and Early Action: acceptance, denial, or deferment.
  5. If the student is admitted to their Early Decision college, they must immediately withdraw all other applications and submit their enrollment commitment and deposit to reserve their space in the freshman class. Students admitted under an Early Action plan are not bound to attend that college — they have until May 1st to make a final decision.
  6. If a student is denied from their Early Decision or Early Action college, they cannot reapply until the following year (which by that point, they are usually happily enrolled at another college).
  7. Being deferred means the college will reevaluate the student’s application during the Regular Decision round.
  8. Students who get deferred are typically admitted at the same rate as the other Regular Decision applicants. However, most Regular Decision admit rates drop significantly compared to the admit rates in the early rounds.
  9. If the student does not receive positive results, taking a few days to process this decision is normal and highly encouraged.
  10. The best way for a student to move on after being denied or deferred is to put all of their energy in submitting the rest of their college applications as most Regular Decision deadlines are around January 1st or January 15th.

The most important thing to remember whether a student gets admitted or not is to understand that one specific college doesn’t dictate their future; they do. Opportunity awaits them around every corner (and every college). Parents, be there to give them a big hug no matter what the results are this month. They will appreciate you being there more than you think.

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Originally published at on December 7, 2016.

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