How To Choose Between Early Action And Early Decision in Admission: Important Factors To Consider

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Exploring Early Admission Options: Early Action Or Early Decision?

Early action, and early decision stand out as valuable tools for students eager to secure spots at their dream academic institutions. Everything sounds complicated at first, but this article will help you understand better these two terms.

When you submit early action and decisions, you usually get a decision sooner than other students. Therefore, you get a better understanding of your options for the future. This article explores important facts about early action and early decision, the benefits of each option, and everything else you need to know. 

The Benefits Of Applying To College Earlier

Whether you choose early action or decision, this option has at least three significant benefits:

  • Receiving an admission decision earlier. Typically, applications for early admission are due in November, compared to the regular deadline in January. As a result, applicants can get their admission decision by mid-December. This is a great stress-relief opportunity because, by this time, you’ll already have a clearer understanding of future prospects. 
  • Finishing the college application process sooner. Being accepted to a school as early as December allows students to wrap up their applications much earlier than those applying for regular timing. This early resolution frees up time during senior year. This may be a great choice as you can focus on your studies rather than suffer from the stress of waiting for college admission letters in the spring.
  • Better chances of being accepted. A few years earlier, the National Association for College Admission Counseling researched the correlation between early applications and acceptance letters. They found that earlier admissions have a higher acceptance rate. It’s because colleges are assured of the applicant’s commitment to attend if admitted.

Keep in mind that certain universities, like Dartmouth College, outright admit that they are more likely to accept someone who applies earlier. Others, like Brown University, ensure they evaluate all applicants using the same criteria. You can rely on these statements or believe the statistics that claim that applying earlier offers a higher chance of acceptance.  

Understanding Early Action

So, what is early action? It’s a nonbinding option (which is already a big advantage), and it offers students the opportunity to apply and secure admission to one or more colleges earlier than regular applicants. Typically, early-action applicants have until early or mid-November to submit their application materials. The list includes:

  • transcripts; 
  • letters of recommendation; 
  • personal statements;
  • other materials required by a chosen college.

Applicants receive answers from chosen institutions around December, January, or February. This leaves students till around May 1 to be admitted to their universities if they accept their offers formally. This timeframe also allows students to compare financial aid packages from different institutions.

Note: Most early action programs are nonbinding, but not all of them are. For example, Harvard and Princeton provide restrictive early action, which means students can only apply for early action at one school but may apply through regular decisions at other universities. So, if you choose one of these universities, you can’t apply for early action anywhere else, yet you can apply via a regular action program. 

What Schools Offer Early Action Options?

  • Northeastern University;
  • University of Michigan;
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  • Georgetown University.

You can check out their official websites to learn more. 

Understanding Early Decision

While the previous option was nonbinding, this one is the opposite. Early action limits potential students from applying to only one school under this admission plan. Early decisions typically cater to high-achieving students who have singled out their preferred college. The chosen institution will demand the following signatures:

  • from the applicant;
  • from family members;
  • from a school counselor.

Usually, universities that provide these admission plans are private and highly selective (hence why the program is for high achievers).

This program guarantees that applicants receive an admission decision around December and are obligated to enroll if accepted. The usual exception is if the applicant finds the financial aid package offered by the school lacking.  

Many accepted students submit their deposits (which are nonrefundable) before May 1. Moreover, applicants are required to withdraw any applications submitted to other colleges and are prohibited from applying to additional schools.

If the possible student is rejected, they may still apply within the regular applicant pool. In this case, they can expect an admission according to a nonbinding plan. However, most rejections under early decision are final.

What Schools Offer Early Decision Options?

  • Columbia University;
  • New York University;
  • Rice University;
  • Boston University
  • Washington University in St. Louis.

You may visit their official websites to learn more. 

Early Action Or Early Decision: How To Choose?

You should consider a few important factors that will help you decide. This is the list:

  • Find the admission plans that your dream institution offers. First things first, check what programs are available at the school of your dreams. Some institutions provide one of the plans. Others offer both. Research this before any other actions. 
  • Choose your top choice school. If you already have a dream school and it offers an early decision plan, it’s a logical choice. However, if you’re open to choosing multiple colleges on your list, early action or regular decision could be more suitable.
  • Show your competitiveness and achievements. Determine your credentials, like GPA, course rigor, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation. You can ask professionals to ‘write my paper’ so that you will see an example of admission letters. Early admissions processes (especially early decisions) are perfect for highly competitive applicants. Ensure that you meet or even exceed your dream school’s admission criteria before committing to an early application plan.
  • Calculate preparation time for an application. Applying early requires gathering all necessary application materials before the regular decision deadline. Consider whether you’ll have enough time to prepare your application materials and submit them by the early deadline.
  • Learn more about financial aid. While early admission institutions provide adequate financial aid, some have more generous offers with competitive packages. Remember: applying for early decision means committing to attending the school without the ability to compare financial aid offers.

These factors should help narrow down your options to the most suitable. 


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