What happens if you are rejected early decision?

Updated: Nov 22

The college admission process is filled with uncertainty. With so many colleges to pick from and multiple ways to apply, it’s no wonder that students and families become stressed during the process. One way to reduce uncertainty and anxiety is to apply early decision to the first choice college. Why submit an early decision application? Here are a few popular reasons:

  • Reduced stress. Submitting an application to one school with the commitment to attend if admitted, can simplify the college process.

  • Better odds. Even the most highly selective colleges boast a higher acceptance rate for students who apply early decision. Use this opportunity to your advantage.

  • Enjoy your senior year. When a student is admitted and commits to a college early in the senior year, it provides additional time to focus on classes, have fun, and enjoy the final year of high school – all without completing additional applications.


While these reasons seem wonderful, it is possible that you may not be admitted to your first-choice college. It can be easy to dwell on the negative, but you need to refocus your energies! What’s next if you are not admitted during the early decision application process?


How to respond to rejection via early decision

Have faith in the process. It’s hard to receive a negative response, but you need to trust that the decision was in your best interest. Each school builds a class specific to their needs, and the application you submit is certain to gain attention for the right reasons at other schools on your list.

Process and cope. Take a few days to sort out your emotions. It’s OK, and normal, to be angry, cry a bit, and wonder where you went wrong. But don’t dwell on it…it’s time to move on and look ahead to the future.

Compile a list of additional colleges. What other colleges are on your list? Which stand out to you for the right reasons? Which school might offer you the best ‘fit’ – academically, socially, and financially?

Collect your thoughts. Do you want to apply to another school during the second round of early decision applications? Do you have a clear second-choice school? Are you prepared to commit to a binding enrollment agreement?

Submit polished applications. It’s time to review the application you submitted during early decision. Are there areas that need improvement? Did you fully complete each section of the application? Should you choose another essay topic or does your essay need more polishing?

Seek assistance from an admission consultant. This may be a good time to receive professional assistance and advice to review your application and college options. A consultant can review your academic and co-curricular profile to assist with the creation of a college list where you fit best. They can also review and provide comments regarding your essays and your answers to supplemental questions. An application review by a seasoned admission professional may be the edge you need. By the way, our team of consultants would love to help! Contact us to start the process!

Move forward and stay positive. Time to submit additional applications and mark the calendar when admission decisions will be released.

Remain excited about college. The application process can be long, difficult, stress-filled, and emotional. Know this: college is a wonderful experience – and one lucky school is looking forward to enrolling you.

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