Stanford's REA / ED

<p>A little confused here. Stanford doesn't undergo through the ED process? What's the difference between ED & REA?</p>

<p>In college admissions lingo, "ED" or Early Decision, means that the applicant agrees that if he or she is accepted he or she will attend that college, and withdraw all other outstanding applications. There is an exception for getting inadequate financial aid, and that's important, but generally an accepted applicant only has a few weeks to accept or reject the offer -- it can't be kept open long enough to see what a bunch of other equivalent colleges might offer, and the student can't go back to a rejected ED college if it turns out that the student doesn't get better aid elsewhere. So for most intents and purposes ED is binding on the student. Inherently, a student can only have one active ED application at a time, since you can't promise to attend two different schools if accepted.</p>

<p>"EA", or Early Admission, is not binding on the student. The college accepts the applicant in December, but the applicant has until May 1 to say yes or no to the college. The student can apply to as many other colleges as he or she wants, and compare financial aid offers, etc. </p>

<p>Most colleges with EA programs allow students to apply to multiple EA colleges at the same time (since acceptances are not binding), or even to apply to an ED college at the same time. However, several prestigious EA colleges practice some form of restricted EA, or REA. The most restrictive of these are Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton, which say that any student who applies EA to one of them cannot have any other EA or ED applications outstanding at the same time. That's often called "Single-Choice Early Action", or "SCEA", to distinguish it from the milder REA programs at places like Georgetown and Boston College.</p>

<p>The rules make a big difference to how students apply. Many students who are sensitive to financial aid and merit scholarships do not feel comfortable applying ED anywhere. I don't think there's any college that gets more than 4-5,000 ED applications (that would be Penn and Cornell). Most colleges with ED programs accept 25-50% of their class ED, and don't get anywhere near that percentage of their overall applications ED, so it looks like the admission odds are substantially better for ED applicants. However, because those colleges handle a lot of their athletic recruiting ED, a lot of that perceived advantage may be illusory.</p>

<p>EA colleges get many more EA applicants per slot than ED colleges, and accept more, too, since their "yield" on EA acceptances may be high (50-70%) but it's a lot less than 99%, which is what the ED colleges have. But SCEA colleges get somewhat fewer applications, because many students don't like to give up the chance for a meaningful advantage elsewhere for a long-shot bid at HYPS.</p>