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ED, EA, and REA: What to Do If You’re Accepted, Deferred, or Rejected

Christmas is in a week. That means you’re probably finishing finals, making last-minute gift purchases (or is it gift cards this year?), and trying to snag a ticket to the new Star Wars movie.

If you’re a high school senior, you may be doing one more thing…

If you applied Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), or Restricted Early Action (REA) to a college, the results should be out. And well, you may have received an early Christmas present--or maybe not. Whatever the results, it’s time to take a deep breath and consider your options. Seriously. You put in a lot of time and effort into these applications, so there should be no bad feelings on your part.

Accepted, deferred, and rejected...what should you do? We are here to help you make the best of any situation!

If you are accepted...

Congratulations! You should feel proud, but don’t go overboard with celebrating. Not everyone has received his or her admission results or maybe has the same great news.

What to Do:

1. If you've been offered admission by an ED school, you have to accept the offer and enroll. That’s it. You’re done. Well, kind of. After committing to the school, you should withdraw your other pending applications to make space for those who are hoping for a spot. Just think how you felt before receiving your acceptance letter!

2. If you've been admitted to an EA or REA school, you can wait until your Regular application results come in the spring to make your final decision to accept the admission offer.

Other Things to Note:

--Don't forget to arrange for your Mid-Year Report to be sent to the college and keep up your senior year grades so your admission won't get revoked.

--The only way out of an ED agreement is if you don’t receive enough financial aid, so it will be hard for you to afford the tuition. If this is the case for you, contact the school to find out whether a better financial aid package will be available.

If you are deferred…

A deferral may seem like the strangest response of the three. You aren’t accepted but you aren’t entirely rejected. It is a strange Purgatory-like state. While you shouldn’t give up hope, you should definitely have a clear head and the right expectations.

What to Do:

1. First, be glad! You now have a second chance. Being deferred means your application will be reviewed again with the Regular application pool.

2. Some schools have a Deferral Form you need to fill out to accept your deferred position and express your desire to be considered in the Regular application pool. Fill this out and return it immediately.

3. You should update the school with any additional or recent achievements (awards, officer positions, better grades/rank, better test scores, additional rec's, art or music portfolio, etc.). Also, you need to show that you are still very interested in the school and that you will definitely enroll if accepted. Write them an email or an actual letter and attach supporting documents.

4. You should contact the school and ask to speak to the admissions counselor who reviewed your application. He or she might be able to give you some specific advice on how you can improve your application for the Regular round.

5. Get some feedback on your application materials from friends and teachers to see if there are any parts of your application you want to improve for your other Regular admission Common App schools which you have not submitted your applications for.

6. Arrange for your Mid-Year Report to be sent to your deferred school and other Common App schools.

Other Things to Note:

--A deferral is not the time to feel sorry for yourself. You need to be proactive with the school that deferred you.

--At the same time, you also need to consider your other options. Deferrals usually do not become acceptances. It is a harsh reality, but not one that you should make you feel bad. The school is sending you a signal that it may not be the best fit, so you should consider other options too.

If you are rejected…

Okay, nobody wants this letter. As soon as you see “we regret to inform you that we cannot offer you admission to the university at this time” the world becomes a bit darker. But there is a light shining behind all that darkness. First off, realize that rejection does not mean you are a bad student--or worse, a bad person. It means that, through the multitude of factors that determine admission, you were not the best fit. Some students are rejected from less prestigious schools and go on to get accepted at more prestigious ones. Others find the best fit in a school they considered as a backup because, upon further reflection, it is the perfect place. Just know that rejection is not the end, and really wherever you end up will be the best place for a variety of reasons. No matter what, you will still be you, capable and amazing as ever, so one rejection is not going to stop you from being awesome. In fact, it may make you even better. Be happy--or at least glad--that the university sent you a clear message during the ED/EA/REA admission period. Now you can focus your attention elsewhere.

What to Do:

1. Keep your hopes up and use this opportunity to shore up potential weaknesses in your remaining applications. I'm sure you will hear some good results in the future!

Other Things to Note:

--If you feel that there might be an error in processing your application, you should call the school and ask the admissions office to review your account to rule out this possibility.

--There is such a thing as ED II, which is like Early Decision but the results come with the Regular admission ones. If you are rejected from ED I, then you can apply to an ED II school.

--Finally, I will leave you with a quote from Alexander Graham Bell:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Regardless of what kind of letter you received from your ED/EA/REA college, just know that the next four years of your life will be spent well because you have the smarts and wherewithal to make them great. On behalf of our B2A staff, we wish you a wonderful Holiday Season, and we hope for good admission outcomes for everyone!

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