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Next steps for early decisions

Kaufman Hall at UCLA

For many colleges and universities that accept applications using Early Decision and Early Action, decisions will be made and sent out via email or through students’ college application portals beginning in early December. This can be an exciting, albeit anxious, time for high school seniors.

We’d like to provide a brief guide on what you need to know, and do, if you’ve been sent any of these three early decision notifications:

Accepted via Early Decision

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to your top choice! As you know, you have committed to attend this university. Now you must withdraw all of the other applications you submitted, by emailing those colleges’ admissions offices or sending a message through their application portals (see "How to withdraw an application" below for more information).

Accepted via Early Action

Congratulations to you as well! You’ve been accepted to potentially some of your favorite colleges and universities! With Early Action you have until May 1st to accept your offer and send in your enrollment deposit. If you have been accepted to your top choice and do not need to wait until other acceptances come in, meaning you are completely sure you want to attend, then you may submit your enrollment deposit. If you do so, be sure to pay your housing deposit as well, if it is separate from your enrollment deposit. Look carefully through the college’s application portal and website to investigate exactly what you need to do to ensure that all has been submitted, especially if housing is assigned based on the date of your enrollment or date of your deposit.


This can be disappointing, but take heart as it is not a denial and many deferred applicants are eventually accepted. Being deferred means you have been moved from the ED or EA pool to the Regular Decision pool for further consideration. The Admissions staff will do this with strong applicants when they want to review them again within the context of the Regular Decision applicants, who often are not as strong as those in the early rounds.

Being deferred may also have nothing at all to do with you and may be related to the school’s unique institutional needs. Some colleges and universities have been overwhelmed with the number of early applications they have been receiving since going test optional; they may simply not have time to adequately review all early applications before their December notification deadlines.

Additional guidance

Whether you are admitted or deferred, take note of any requests the colleges make, like for a mid-year transcript or additional letters of recommendation, and submit what they require as soon as possible. There is usually a deadline for submitting those supplemental documents, after which your application may be denied. You may also reach out to your local Admissions Representative and express your enthusiasm and high interest in their school. It can also be helpful to send evidence of grade improvements, any recent awards you’ve received, and any new achievements you’ve had since you applied.

A really good aspect of applying early is that, if the outcomes of some of your early applications were not what you hoped for, you still have time to pivot and apply to a few additional colleges via Regular Decision.

And finally, you may receive information about financial aid offers, including need-based aid and merit aid, in your admissions notifications. However, it is possible that you will not receive that information with your offer of admission because many colleges send this information later. You can always call the admissions office for questions on merit aid and the financial aid office for questions on need-based aid. Students must always be the one to call their admissions representative, but parents may call the financial aid office about need-based aid.

Let us know if you have any questions!

How to withdraw an application

You may be able to withdraw very quickly by finding and clicking on a button within your applicant portal. The button is likely to be labeled “Withdraw Admission” or “Decline Admission” or something similar. If there is no option to withdraw your application in the portal and you cannot find instructions on the college’s website, you must write to your local Admissions Representative and let them know. Include the following information in your email:

  • Full name
  • Birthdate
  • Full address
  • Assigned application ID (if applicable)
  • Application type (freshman or transfer)
  • Application term (fall, winter, spring, year)

To withdraw from UC or Cal State, please refer to the links below for more information:

Featured image (top): Kaufman Hall, UCLA. Photo by Matthew Enger.

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