College Admission Decisions: Admitted, Denied, or Deferred

Admission decisions for Early Decision or Early Action applications typically have one of three outcomes: Admitted, Denied, Deferred.

Most Early Decision and Early Action college application deadlines fall in October or on November 1. If you have applied for one of these early options, here’s what you can expect.

In mid-December, letters and email notifications start hitting the mail boxes of high school students who applied to college as Early Decision or Early Action applicants. Students will need to take action based on those notification letters.

RELATED: College Application Types

Notifications will contain one of the following decisions:


Congrats! You got in! Acceptance is binding and you will be instructed to accept the offer by a specific date if you applied Early Decision student. If you were accepted as an Early Action admit, then you may have until May 1 to accept the offer of admission.

RELATED: Admitted Early Decision? It’s not a sure thing yet!


You were not accepted for admission and do not meet this particular institution’s requirements for enrollment. Clearly this means this college is not the best fit for you and vice versa.

However, all is not lost. There are more than 2700 4-year colleges and universities and more than 1700 community colleges in the U.S. Consult with your guidance counselor  or go online and search for colleges that may be a better fit.


Deferred isn’t rejected! The school may not have accepted you under Early Decision or Early Action, but your application is still being considered and has been moved to the pool of regular decision applicants. It will be reviewed again and you will be notified according to the college’s regular admission notification schedule. Your notification will likely include a statement advising you not to slack off for the remainder of your senior year and to continue to take academically challenging courses. This is always good advice. You need to keep your transcripts and test scores up to date! Regularly check on this college, and all of the schools you have applied to or to which you plan to apply.

READ THIS: The Dos and Don’ts of Being Deferred

Finally, if you plan on visiting colleges before making a final acceptance, please keep in mind winter break schedules at colleges and universities. Good luck to all high school seniors!

Updated May 2020

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