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Can I change my college application from Regular Decision to ED2 after I've already submitted it?

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Yes, actually! Early Decision is a huge benefit to colleges, and they'd love to see you change your Regular Decision (RD) admission plan to an Early Decision 2 (ED2) plan.

In mid-December, high school seniors all over the country are simultaneously submitting their Regular Decision college applications and receiving admissions decisions from their Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED1) schools. If you're accepted to your ED1 school, you're admitted under a binding plan, and that means your college search is over. Hopefully, that's amazing news. But if your early applications are denied, those RD applications become more important than ever. I actually love for my students to submit all their RD applications before hearing back from early schools in order to relieve the pressure of this big moment. It's a weird feeling to write a college essay for the University of San Francisco immediately after you've just been denied from Santa Clara University.

A big choice comes next. If you're denied or deferred from your ED1 school, you become eligible to apply for a school with an Early Decision 2 (ED2) plan -- basically, a binding plan just like ED1, but with later deadlines, applying in the winter and hearing back around March. So, if you want to take another stab at a binding admission plan, you can check and see if any of the schools on your college list offer an ED2 option. Here's the question I asked in the headline: If you're one of my students who works really hard to submit all their college applications before December 15th (as all of mine do!) does this mean you've lost your shot at applying to a school ED2 after you're denied ED1?

No, not at all! If you want to change an RD application to ED2, contact the school and ask them to change your admission plan. First, check the college's admission portal for a space to send requests or messages; this is the ideal place to make a change like this. If you can't find that space in the portal, you can call or send an email to admissions, and the school will almost always be happy to change your admission plan for you.

Why are they so eager to do this? Easy answer. Colleges love Early Decision applications because they simplify enrollment and, a bit indirectly, they help the college appear more prestigious in national rankings. So, don't worry for a minute about making the call. Just like any Early Decision application, you will need to sign a binding agreement to formalize the plan, and your parent and school counselor will need to sign it. Binding means you have to go, so be 100% sure you love this school and can definitely pay for it if you're accepted. You might be wondering, why would you want to apply ED2 if it limits your choices and could put you in a financial bind? Well, students on the cusp of admission can potentially receive a game-changing bump when the admissions officer sees they applied under a binding plan. But, if you're not on the cusp, ED1 or ED2 probably won't help you as much as you're hoping it will.

Signing an Early Decision agreement is a lot like getting a diamond ring and making a marriage proposal. Take it seriously and make sure it's a perfect match. But, if it works out, it can be the best of situations for both you and the college you'll (definitely) attend.

Want to get an earlier start on the process with your younger teen? Download our completely free College Admission Timeline below!

Robert Powers is a college consultant and the founder of College Torch. He is an expert in colleges and the college admissions process. Parents can join his private Facebook group for Parents of College-Bound Students.

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