I want to apply to college early, what’s the difference between “early decision” and “early action”?
Some background about this question:
- Early decision and early action plans allow you to apply early (usually in November) and get an admission decision by December or January.
- Early decision plans are binding. You agree to attend the college if it accepts you and offers an adequate financial aid package (you don’t get the benefit of comparing financial aid offers among multiple schools).
- You can apply to only one college for early decision.
- You may apply to other colleges through the regular admission process but if you’re accepted by your early decision college, you must withdraw your other applications.
- Early action plans are similar to early decision plans, but are not binding. If you’ve been accepted, you can choose to commit to the college immediately, or wait until the spring when you’ve heard from other schools.
- Students can apply early action to as many colleges as they like.
Is there any other way to apply early?
- Yes. The “single-choice early action” is a new option and not offered by many colleges. It has the benefits of early action (no commitment required until the spring), but students are not allowed to apply to any other colleges early.
What is “rolling admissions”?
- Colleges with a rolling admissions program review applications as they are submitted. Students can be notified within three weeks after submitting their materials.
What is the final deadline for applications?
- Most selective colleges require that materials be submitted between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1. Notifications are released between mid-March and mid-April.
How do I know if I should apply early decision or early action?
- You should only apply early decision or early action if you are sure about the college you want to attend.
What happens if I’m deferred (not accepted or rejected)?
- A deferred admission means that the school may eventually accept you but it won’t make a decision until it receives all the regular applications.
Which colleges offer early plans?
- More than 400 colleges offer an early decision plan, an early action plan, or both.
- Should You Apply Early Decision? (distance-education.org)
- College Admissions: A Case Against Early Decision Applications (crushable.com)
- The Case for Early Decision (thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Early Applicants More Likely to Gain College Admission (usnews.com)
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