ED I vs. ED II: What’s the Difference? College Apps FAQ

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Do you want to apply for college early? Do you want to gain a competitive advantage in college admissions? Like you, many students ask these questions too, especially with the continuous decline of the acceptance rate to competitive colleges. Today, we hear about early application notification programs like Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED). The ability of these programs to notify you beforehand whether you’ve been chosen for admission in your chosen school makes them great for students looking for a competitive edge.

The division of the Early Decision into two programs (ED I and ED II) makes it even more interesting. It means more opportunities for college applicants. This article covers everything you need to know about ED I and ED II, including their differences and the risks involved in each.

What is Early Decision 1 (ED I)?What is Early Decision 1 (ED I)?

Otherwise known as early acceptance, early decision 1 is a common policy used in college admissions in the United States. The policy’s primary goal is to indicate to the college or university that a candidate considers the institution as their top choice.

Different colleges offer different admission plans, so candidates can either choose Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA), depending on what an institution offers. Some institutions offer both, so it’s essential to check what your choice institution offers before applying. The main factor that differentiates an ED from an EA is its constitution of a binding commitment to enroll. This means that a candidate must withdraw every application to other institutions and enroll in the school he or she is admitted under an ED program. On the other hand, early action is not binding, so students can choose not to enroll in a school after their admission under early action.

What is Early Decision 2 (ED2)?

What is Early Decision 2 (ED2)?

Early Decision 2 is another early application option that’s gaining popularity over the last decade. Like early decision 1 above, early decision 2 is also binding, meaning that students accepted under this option must attend the college. Although some other differences may exist between ED 1 and ED 2, timing is perhaps the most popular differentiating factor. Colleges offering ED 2 admissions often set the deadline for applications to fall on or around January 1. Students typically get to know the school’s decision by the end of January or in the early days of February.

Let’s also mention that the application deadline for ED 2 is generally the same as the application deadline for Regular Decision. However, students applying under ED 2 usually get the school’s decision about two months before regular decision applicants.

Can You Apply Both ED I and ED II?

Can You Apply Both ED I and ED II?

For the most part, yes! You can apply for both ED I and ED II in the same year, considering the difference in application dates. There’s no rule obligating you to apply for both, but if one of your other top-choice institutions offers an ED II option, then it’s something you’ll want to consider.

The main reason why this is possible is because the ED II application typically comes after the ED I acceptance period, so people whose ED I application was not accepted mostly apply. However, we’ve used “another institution” above because you can not reapply for ED II in the same institution where your ED I application just got rejected or deferred.

From the above, let’s rephrase the question as “should you apply to an ED II school if your ED I application was not accepted by your top-choice?” This question is somewhat more complicated than it looks on the surface. Let’s explain:

A rejection of your ED I application typically puts you out of the running for an ED I school, whatsoever. However, it means that you can apply for an ED II school alongside other RD schools. By now, you can already tell that ED II offers you a similar advantage that ED I offers you, only with different dates. ED II application acceptance rate is typically lower than ED I application acceptance rate, although they tend to be higher than those for RD applications.

Of course, ED II is as binding as ED I, as stated above. So, you are required to withdraw all other college applications if your ED II application gets accepted. Therefore, while choosing your ED II institution, it’s vital to ensure that it’s a choice you’ll fancy attending.

However, the situation is slightly different if your ED I application was deferred. In this case, you can also apply for ED II in another institution, although doing so may not always work in your interest.

As we’ve stated throughout this article, being accepted by your ED II institution means that you’ll be obligated to attend the institution. The obligation is often binding, non-respective of whether you are waiting to hear back about your deferred ED I application – and this fact can put you in trouble.


Here are possible scenarios that can be caused by your application for ED II to another school after the deferment of your ED I application.

Between October and November, you complete your ED I application to your first-choice institution, institution A.
By December, institution A informs you of the deferment of your application, meaning that your obligation to attend the said college has been canceled.

Well, you opt to apply to your second-favorite institution, institution B, in the ED II round.

Institution B accepts your ED II application. At this point, your agreement obligates you to attend Institution B.

Your Institution B acceptance typically means that you should withdraw your College A application. However, you choose not to withdraw your institution A application, which is a breach of the rules.

If college A later accepts your application, you’ll be required to attend Institution B because of your binding commitment, even though Institution A is your preferred choice.

Trying to breach your commitment with Institution B because you want to attend Institution A may lead to a withdrawal of your acceptance in both institutions.

Institution B may also withdraw your acceptance if they find that you didn’t withdraw institution A application.

From the above illustration, it is clear that applying ED II to another institution after your ED I deferment can hurt your overall application.

What is the Difference Between ED1 and ED II?

What is the Difference Between ED1 and ED II?

It’s common to see people confusing ED I with ED II because of their similarity level. Indeed, both of them are ED programs and are designed to allow applicants to commit to one particular college. As explained earlier, the school would send you a notification of their admission decision in due time.

Both programs are binding, and by submitting your application to any of them, you agree to attend the college if they accept you in the ED round. This is a commitment that you shouldn’t take lightly, considering the rules surrounding it. Let’s also mention that both programs are single choices, so you’ll not be able to apply to multiple schools in the same round of applications. However, despite all these interesting similarities, there are several areas where both applications differ from each other. Here, let’s review some of them.


One of the most obvious differences between the ED I and ED II is the timeline. Both programs differ both in application due dates and timeline that the school gets back to you. Most people can already tell that the ED I program typically has an earlier deadline than the ED II program from their names.

The timeline for ED I application usually ranges between October and November of your senior high school year. Most schools get back to students on their decision by mid-December.

On the other hand, students can apply for ED II by January 1st. Schools get back to students with their ED II admission decision by mid-February.


As explained earlier, the ED I program is most popular with educational institutions. ED II programs would most likely be found in private liberal arts colleges. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see that most Ivy League schools do not have ED II.

Acceptance Rate

As usual, one vital factor that differentiates both programs is the acceptance rate. This is why you’ll see many online articles today comparing ED I vs. ED II acceptance rates. Of course, the popularity of the ED I program generally means that its acceptance rate is higher. More public institutions and ivy league schools also offer only ED I programs, so you’ll probably see students get into such schools through this program compared to ED II.

Pros and Cons of ED I and ED II

Pros and Cons of ED I and ED II

As explained earlier, ED I is generally similar to ED II in practice. This similarity means that they’ll typically share the same general pros and cons.

Both ED programs generally demonstrate your enthusiasm to attend a particular college and take advantage of the higher acceptance rate that they offer compared to RD programs. However, they do not come without risks. For example, being accepted through any ED round limits you from financial aid packages from different schools. Additionally, you’ll have to stick to attending a particular school, even if you change your mind about the school’s ability to meet your learning needs.

In addition to the pros and cons mentioned above, there are several others you should know. Let’s review some of them.

ED1 Pros

  • Here, applicants generally learn about their school’s admission decision earlier than other programs like ED II and RD.
  • You get the opportunity to show your love and commitment to attending your first choice school by applying earlier.
  • The higher acceptance rate of ED I in comparison to ED II and RD may improve your chances of being accepted.
  • You’ll hear about the school’s admission decision early enough to decide whether to withdraw or go ahead with other college applications.
  • It gives you enough time to plan for your college experience.


  • Early ED I deadlines mean that you’ll need to decide where to apply and gather materials before gaining enough experience for it.
  • If the high school you presently attend has a low percentage of ED I applicants, your advisor/guidance counselor may not have enough information to make the right decisions for you.
  • Since the application timeline clashes with the early days of your senior high school year, you can expect that more attention will be paid to your grades from your first three years of high school.
  • You’ll have less time to prepare for the test compared to RD and ED I.
  • While it’s possible to defer ED I, you’ll still need to work hard on updating your application materials if you intend to apply for RD.
  • You could get accepted for ED I after already turning in your RD applications. This scenario calls for a withdrawal of those applications, which means total waste of the money put into applying for those programs.

ED II Pros

  • You’ll learn about your school’s decision earlier compared to RD applications.
  • It also helps you show your passion and enthusiasm for attending your ED II school.
  • ED II acceptance rates are higher than RD acceptance rates, so you are still getting an admission boost.
  • The late application deadline of ED II means that you’ll not necessarily need to prepare your application early, so your ED II college can access your most recent accomplishments.
  • Most counselors and advisors are familiar enough with ED II’s application timeline to offer more informed advice and recommendations.
  • You’ll still have the chance to withdraw from other college applications if you are accepted for the ED II program.


  • Your institution won’t get back to you about your application as early as ED I
  • The acceptance rate for ED II programs is significantly lower than the acceptance rate for ED I programs.
  • The late application deadline means that you’ll need to apply to other colleges as well. The resources you’ll spend to apply for these colleges may become a waste if your ED I college accepts your application.

Is ED I Better Than ED II?

Is ED I Better Than ED II?

Apart from the difference between early decision I and II, people often ask which is better. Both programs are similar in several ways, and you shouldn’t choose either unless you are already sure about your first-choice college. You don’t have to apply for any of the programs if you do not intend to commit to a particular college. However, both programs still have their differences and the class of people they are suited for despite these similarities. Understanding the pros and cons of each can help you choose which is best for you. The right choice for you depends on educational needs, timing, choice institution, etc.

It’s easy to see people point to ED I as being better than ED II because of the number of benefits it features. But that doesn’t take away anything from the fact that ED II also has its advantages. In fact, some people prefer ED II to ED I. Therefore, the best thing to do is to evaluate your needs and choose a program that best suits them.

Wrapping Things Up: ED I vs. ED II

There you have it, a detailed review of the difference between ED I and ED II. Unlike the RD and other programs, ED I and ED II are both single-choice programs, so applying for them will restrict your ability to apply to multiple schools in the same round of applications. The numerous similarities can cause you to confuse one of the programs for the other. However, this article has provided enough details to help you understand the differences. At first glance, choosing the right program for you may seem like a hard nut to crack, but the information in this article should help you make the right choice. Review the pros and cons of both programs to know which is suitable for you.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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