Many students believe that when you apply early to a university, you must limit your application to a single college. When, you look more closely at the application requirements, you will find that you can apply more strategically. Highly selective schools in the United States–like Harvard, MIT, and Yale–have restrictive early action. For example, Harvard describes its Early Action program like this:
“If you apply to Harvard under our Restrictive Early Action program, you may also apply early to non-binding public or foreign colleges/universities (no Early Decision programs), but you may not apply early (in any form) to U.S. private colleges/universities.”
Note that the restriction applies only to U.S. private universities. So, where else could an ambitious student apply?
—International Universities. Schools in Canada, like the University of Toronto or McGill, would be excellent candidates. Schools in the United Kingdom, like Oxford and Cambridge, could also be great possibilities. Given the weight that international schools put on academic qualifications, these schools could be good options for students whose academic qualifications are stellar but whose extracurricular qualifications are not as comparatively strong.
—Elite State Universities in the United States. Schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin would allow early applications that are non-binding.
So, instead of simply applying to one selective private school with an early application, you may want to also apply early to an international university or a couple of state universities. Doing so will likely ensure that you have more options for college admissions come December instead of having all of your eggs in one basket with a single elite private university.