Early Action vs. Early Decision
Whether it’s learning their admissions fate sooner or demonstrating interest in a top choice school, early application rounds appeal to students for a multitude of reasons. In order to truly take advantage of the early admissions process, students need to understand the different types of early applications and pinpoint which plan is best for them.
The most common early application processes are Early Decision and Early Action. Keep reading to learn more about how each of these application processes work as well as some schools with Early Action policies.
Early Decision: The Basics
Early Decision is a binding application process, meaning that students agree that if they are accepted they will enroll. Consequently, students can only apply to one school per Early Decision round. Some schools offer multiple rounds of Early Decision with different deadlines; the only way an applicant can apply to multiple colleges through ED is if they do not receive an acceptance at their ED I school. These applicants can then select another school with an ED II policy, and a subsequent later application deadline, and repeat the process.
Given the binding nature of the application, applying ED is a significant commitment and students should only pursue this process if they are confident that their selected institution is truly their first choice college. Specific application and notification dates can vary slightly by institution, but generally the deadline for ED I applications is some time around early November and students can expect to receive their admissions results in December. ED II application deadlines typically occur around the same time as regular decision rounds, near the New Year. Students who apply ED II generally receive admissions results around mid-February.
Early Action: The Basics
Unlike Early Decision, students who choose to apply Early Action are not bound by this application process. That means applicants can apply to several colleges in the Early Action round if they choose to. Early Action can be a great option for students who have all of their application materials ready and possess strong grades and test scores, but don’t necessarily feel ready to fully commit to one college. The deadline for Early Action applications for most schools occurs sometime in early November and applicants generally receive admissions results by late December or early January.
There are also a smaller subset of schools with Restricted Early Action of Single Early Action policies. For this admissions round, students are not bound to the institution they choose to apply to, but their application options for other colleges are limited in accordance to specific policies that vary by institution.
Key Differences Between EA versus ED
The biggest difference between EA and ED policies is whether or not they are binding. Students who apply ED are committing to attend a specific college if admitted, while EA applicants can keep their options open by applying to other institutions in the same time period. While both EA and ED can both help applicants convey their demonstrated interest in a specific institution, ED can be a more powerful option in this regard. ED applicants are guaranteeing to enroll upon admission, which can help institutions manage their yield rate, or the number of students who enroll upon admittance. Despite the policy differences between both admissions processes, both ED and EA follow similar timelines regarding application deadlines and notification dates.
Top Colleges with EA Policies
Some schools with EA policies are as follows: Georgetown, MIT, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Chicago, Villanova, Caltech, and the University of Michigan.
In order to take full advantage of early admissions rounds, students need to reflect on their list of best fit schools and create an application strategy that aligns with their goals. If you are getting ready for application season, our team of admissions experts can guide you throughout the process.