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What to do if you are disappointed in your EA/ED results

What to do if you are disappointed in your EA/ED results

As more and more people apply to a select few schools, EA/ED acceptance season can feel a lot more like rejection season. If you’re overwhelmed by college application results, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are many paths to finding the right college, and there are still many great college options on the horizon. Remember, you will get through this! And Ivy Tutors can help.

Lisa Speransky
Lisa Speransky
College Admissions
College Visits
College Essay

As more and more people apply to a select few schools, EA/ED acceptance season can feel a lot more like rejection season. If you’re overwhelmed by college application results, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are many paths to finding the right college, and there are still many great college options on the horizon. Remember, you will get through this! And Ivy Tutors can help.

A Few Healthy Reminders

1 – It's a crapshoot

I mean that literally. Top schools have way too many qualified applicants to curate a freshman class, so some put top choices into a lottery machine (yes, a robot) or devise their own random selection system to choose a big chunk of their freshman class. Remember that whatever your ED school says, it's not reducible to a judgment on your value to that college or any one part of the hard work you put in your application. It may have come down to the flip of a coin.

2 - There are no “dream schools”

There are only schools that you make work for you. Wherever you go next year, even if it's your top choice, there will be surprises, good and bad, and there’ll be ample opportunities to make it the experience you need. An amazing college experience, or a less than amazing one, comes down to what you make of it wherever you go.

3 - Your ED result isn’t good or bad

It can be easy to place all our happiness chips on the decisions of colleges, but the truth is, we can’t know whether going to one school over another is better. It’s all speculation, which can easily feed anxiety or sorrow. You might practice some equanimity with your ED result and keep it between you and your family, or agree to feel whatever you feel about it for one day or week but no more. And perhaps no posting on socials this week/month to avoid “comparison despair.”

What Are the Next Steps?


The school chose to defer deciding on your application and moved it to the regular decision pool for one more round where it is no longer binding. You will have a couple months to write a letter of continued interest to update the school on your extracurriculars, test scores and recent touch points with the university (we can help).


Take a deep breath and clear your head. You are free to revisit your search and apply to more amazing schools! It may seem daunting to put together more applications for the Jan 1 deadline, but much of what you have done may be recyclable for other applications (we can help, too). After your big journey researching schools, you are now in a strong position to re-evaluate what you really want out of college.

Questions to Consider in case of Deferral or Denial:

  • Is your list heavy on reach schools and light on targets?
  • Does your application lean too “well-rounded” and lack a clear hook or point of view?
  • Is there genuine passion in your essays?
  • Do you simply name-drop professors and resume highlights without sharing why they excite you?
Questions to Consider in case of Deferral or Denial

What About College Abroad?

Let’s face it, a fair chunk of the reason that you likely applied Early Action or Early Decision is so that you’d have a better chance of getting accepted; after all, yield protection means that a lot of colleges in the US take a large portion of their classes through one of these two methods. As you make new application plans, why not expand your search. Consider college abroad!

Applying to College in Canada

The closest option for a lot of people is going to be Canada; it’s also going to be the one most like the United States in a lot of regards. There are majors, minors, and even the occasional fraternity or sorority.

Depending on where in Canada you want to apply, you either have plenty of time or just a few weeks. For some programs, like Computer Science at the University of Toronto, admissions could be just as challenging as many top 20 universities in the United States. However, for those looking for something else, typically admissions rates are much more reasonable

How reasonable?

For non-Computer Science and business majors, Toronto admits nearly 50% of applicants. Other great Canadian universities, like the University of British Columbia or McGill, admit similar percentages. In Canada, you’ll find a trend that is pretty standard across international schools: with a handful of exceptions, if you’ve got the qualifications, you’ve got a solid shot of getting accepted.

College Applications in Canada

Unfortunately, there’s no Common Application in Canada that spans provinces. However, the applications themselves are incredibly short. McGill’s takes about 20 minutes. Seriously. UBC is one of the more involved ones, but a lot of it can simply be lifted from your Common App. While there are supplements, only a handful of universities have them, and only then for specific programs.

Applying to College in the UK

For a lot of students, one of the most attractive options may be in the UK. After all, costs are comparable to any 4-year programs in the US, you often just have to study what you want to study (though there are options for those who want to dabble in different fields), and you get access to a UK work permit when you’re done.

There is some bad news, however, if you’re thinking of Oxford or Cambridge; unfortunately those deadlines have already passed. Additionally, if you wanted to go straight to medical, dental, or veterinary school, you’re a few weeks too late by this point.

But practically every other degree program in the UK is still accepting applications.

Want to study CS at Imperial College London, the MIT of the UK? No problem.

Economics at LSE? You’re right on time.

History at Edinburgh? You’re still ahead of most UK applicants.

College Applications in the UK

Applying to the UK couldn’t be easier. You can choose up to five programs to apply to on UCAS, the UK’s version of the Common App (but better!). At this point of the year, nowhere has a supplement, and they base everything off your personal statement, letter of recommendation, and other qualifications.

That said, you still have to know what you’re doing. An American-style personal statement doesn’t help British universities figure out if you’re a good fit, so even though it’s just one personal statement for up to five choices, it is pretty different from the Common App. Additionally, the British tend to place emphasis on exams, so your ACT, SAT, AP, or IB results should be pretty good. This is starting to shift, so more universities are looking at just high school grades and your personal statement.

Applying to College in Europe

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, then much of the EU could be the answer. Once again, you’ll have to move fast for some programs, like Bocconi University’s business school, most options in the Netherlands, or Trinity College Dublin, but even if you’re still waiting on the outcome of regular decision options, there’s hope. A lot of universities in Spain and Italy don’t even open applications until the spring!

Every year there are more and more undergraduate degrees offered solely in English. The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Czechia are great options for those who want to live someplace with a different language, but still learn in English.

One thing to mention is that it is vital to avoid for-profit universities in Europe. These are increasingly common, and while they make big promises, they aren’t always, or ever, able to deliver on them after graduation.

College Applications in Europe

European applications are short and sweet, but with the exception of the Netherlands’ Studielink, there is rarely a common application surrogate. However, it rarely takes more than 30 minutes per university.

The two exceptions are Irish universities, which can be just as involved as an American college, and universities in Spain. Spanish institutions have a rather bureaucratic process, so it is best to lean heavily on the international admissions team.

Applying to College in Australia

Has the entire college application process got you so down that you’re ready to really get away? In that case, you might want to consider Australia! Aussie universities have a lot going for them: they’re incredibly well ranked, they love American students, and they have plenty of flexibility with regards to what you want to study.

Seven Australian universities are in the global top 100, which is pretty amazing for a country with a population less than a tenth of that of the United States. One other advantage is that their academic year runs from February to December, so students can either enter at Semester Two (applying in the late spring or early summer for August entry) or take a gap semester for Semester One (applying in November for February entry).

College Applications in Australia

As is probably not surprising, applying to Australian universities requires a lot less paperwork than those in the US. Best of all, while the ACT or SAT is required, the testing requirements are incredibly attainable. A 29 on the ACT ensures consideration at most top universities’ most competitive departments, while a 24 is good enough for entry into most fields.

College Applications in Australia

You can do it!

Though it is natural to feel some disappointment with unexpected EA/ED results, remember there are still many incredible schools with open applications. If you feel overwhelmed by next steps, Ivy Tutors are available to make a game plan that feels empowering and exciting. And if you’re struggling to write supplements or improve your Common Application, Ivy Tutors can help with that too. The college process is an opportunity to consider a variety of possibilities. The future is wide open, and there are still many chances to create your ideal college experience–even if it’s a bit unexpected.


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