Early Decision vs. Early Action

One of the many daunting decisions in the college process.

November 11, 2018

For many seniors, the college application process is one of the major stressors in their lives. From filling out the Common Application to writing essays and supplements, and especially to choosing which schools to apply to, the process is both time consuming and stressful. Another aspect of the application process is choosing whether or not to apply to any given school’s Early Decision, in which the student must sign a binding contract that commits them to that school if they are accepted. A different option, which many students wish more schools would offer, is Early Action, in which the students still get the benefit of finding out if they are accepted to their schools around December, but without having to sign the binding contract. Additionally, when applying Early Action, students can apply to as many schools as they choose as long as the school’s Early Action policy is not restrictive. This differs from Early Decision, in which students must make one choice. However, there is a downside to applying for Early Action. There is no change in the likelihood of being accepted, which is present when applying Early Decision.

Other choices for applications include regular decisions and Early Decision II. Regular decisions and Early Action are very similar in that they are both non-binding, the only difference being in the deadlines, and when the students find out of their acceptance. Early Decision II, however, just like Early Decision, is binding, but the deadline is later in the year. If a student applies Early Decision to a school on November 1st and is deferred or rejected, then they have an opportunity to apply to another school Early Decision II, which shows a student’s interest in a school and therefore raises their chances of acceptance. Additionally, the student will find out their fate a couple of months earlier than they would had they applied as a regular decision. Despite all the benefits, this is financially binding just as Early Decision is, and not as popular among schools.

It’s important for students to know all of their options when applying, and to work hard on their applications. Remember that you will get into the school that is the best fit for you! Happy applying!


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