What happens if you apply early decision to a university, get accepted, and don't go?

What happens if you apply early decision to a university, get accepted, and don’t go?

November 26, 2019

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Early Decision, Early Action and Regular Admissions can be very confusing and stressful when making the decision to choose which path to take for which schools. So I will break it down in simple parts to help you with the decision and outcome.


Difference Between Early Decision & Early Action


In brief, ED is binding while EA is Not. It is said that ED gives you a better chance of admissions. I read that some legacy and influential parents encourage their children to apply ED since acceptance rates can be as high as 50%+. For example at Duke, ED acceptance is 20% where normally its closer to 6%. On the other, EA acceptance rates may only be slightly better than regular admissions, but require that you submit your application early, which requires better time management to submit in time.


Also some schools offer ED and others don’t, and others will allow you to ONLY apply ED to their schools but not others.


Here is an example from Vanderbilt:

Consequences for Reneging on Early Decisions:


ED is binding but not legally binding. From my readings and knowledge it seems that the worst that can happen (which actually would really suck!) would be if the student applied to several schools through ED, and selected one over the others. Then the rejected school(s) can call the one you accepted and inform them prompting a withdrawal of the acceptance (this may be tricker for AdComms to do if you accept a decision for a university abroad like in England or even Canada).


In the end, many put it at honor and say if you pull-out of a ED then it would tarnish your reputation at your high school and likely with that college. So its not something you want to do!


But there are reasons to justify why you would not be able to uphold a ED acceptance. Here are some examples from a great U.S. News Article on the topic:


Most colleges will release students from early decision offers without penalty if applicants receive a financial aid package that doesn’t make it feasible economically for the student to attend.


There may be other compelling reasons that would sway an admissions officer to release an accepted student from an early decision offer without consequence – a sick parent, for instance – admissions officers say.


Considerations & Next Steps


So when deciding whether to apply ED v. EA or Regular Admissions you should ask yourself these questions (some questions derived from a U.S. News Article on the topic):


  1. Is there a significant statistical advantage to applying ED?


Make sure to look at historical acceptance rates of ED v. EA v. Regular admissions from the school you are applying to so you can figure out the advantage.


  1. Would a midyear addition to your application such as a completed internship or first semester grades enhance your overall profile?


If you expect to have an advantage in your application (better grades, retaken SAT, completed internship, personal feat etc.) by December/January, then applying regular admissions may be better so that can be included in your application.


  1. Have you thoroughly vetted the school, including sitting in on a class and staying on campus overnight?


Basically are you 100% sure this is your top choice no matter what? If not then you should check it out, do all your due diligence and then make that final decision so you don’t reverse course and reject the ED acceptance.


  1. Are you willing to part with financial aid options?


If you accept at an ED school and the financial aid package is not great, then you may not be able to compare the package with other schools as you have to accept the aid they give you. This would not be the case with EA or regular admissions.


So think hard about this process and don’t jump the gun unless you have financial backing and know the ED school is your TOP choice (no matter what)!


Hope this helps!


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