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Why Early Decision 2 Might Just Be the Best Way to Get Into College

I am already discussing the advantages of applying to an Early Decision 2 program with my daughter, who is a junior in high school. I want her to understand what I came to realize as a dean of admissions of a college that had an Early Decision 2 program. Her chances of admission increase if she is willing to commit to this second round of Early Decision.

However, Early Decision 2 programs have always been a tough sell to students. Telling them to consider another college (that they have to commit to) when they have been deferred or denied from a college that was presumably their first choice is often a very difficult pivot. And I understand why. 

For the students who were deferred from their first choice college, they are holding out hope that they will get admitted in Regular Decision. And for the students who were denied by their first choice college in the early round, they are often still processing the finality of their decision when Early Decision 2 deadlines are looming around January 1st.
But in this ultra competitive landscape, I am going to encourage ED2 not only to my own daughter, but all of my students. Why?
First, with a few exceptions (and Vanderbilt is at the top of this list of exceptions), ED2 programs are often smaller and slightly less competitive applicant pools. No matter what, colleges with ED2 programs need them to bolster their yield and fill a significant portion of their freshman class before Regular Decision. This tends to result in a higher acceptance rate for ED2 than a college's Early Action, Regular Decision, and sometimes even its Early Decision 1 program. The odds are in a student's favor in an ED2 pool IF they are objectively competitive for the college. 
Second, I have a growing concern about the high rates of deferrals and the low acceptance rates for deferred students in Regular Decision. I don't see a lot of deferred students ultimately getting admitted in Regular Decision. I worry that students will pass on an opportunity to get into an ED2 program because they believe they still have a chance of getting admitted to the college that deferred them.
In this landscape, ED2 can be a entrée into a college that will be "out of reach" in Early Action and/or Regular Decision. However, that doesn't mean a student who is uncompetitive for the college is going to automatically get admitted if they apply ED2. The student still needs to have the curriculum, grades, and test scores (if submitting them) that the college expects. And while I have heard of students getting denied by an ED1 college and admitted to an ED2 college that is similarly competitive, I tend to recommend an ED2 college that has a more generous acceptance rate than their ED1 college.
There are some universities that offer ED2 like Vanderbilt University, University of Chicago, Northeastern University, Washington University, and Emory University. Most of the colleges with ED2 programs tend to be the smaller, selective liberal arts colleges, though. As many of my loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of the small liberal arts colleges and the fact that this group of schools tends to offer ED2 gives me another reason to love them even more. 

READ MORE: The Most Common Admissions Decision Colleges Make This Time of Year

Early this week, I was texting back and forth with one of my Application Nation - Class of 2023 students about their ED1 application. I didn't miss an opportunity to mention that ED2 might be something to consider. While the student didn't seem interested, I planted a seed. I want all students to consider that an ED2 program might end up being an even better fit for them in the end.