Early Action (EA) is a non-binding program that allows students to submit an application in November and receive a decision by mid-December. Early Action affords students the opportunity to submit credentials to some highly selective colleges in return for notification ahead of the Regular Decision process. Students who choose this option are not presumed to be declaring a first-choice interest in the college. As a result, they are not committed to enroll if admitted and may, in some cases, apply EA to multiple schools. That said, a handful of institutions offer restricted choice Early Action (or single-choice Early Action) that prohibits students from applying EA to any other school. Be sure to understand the specific requirements regarding each institution's EA program.
Restricted Early Action (aka Single-Choice Early Action) is an non-binding early action admission option in which a student may not apply to any other private schools’ early program, except:
- A college outside of the US
- A non-binding rolling admission program
- A public college or university whose admission is not binding.
- An ED II program, if notification of admission occurs after January 1
Early Decision (ED) is an application opportunity offered by many of the nation's most selective institutions that provides an early admission decision in exchange for a student's commitment to enroll if accepted. Therefore, ED is a binding decision and student's can only apply to one school ED. Students are also expected to withdraw all other Regular Decision applications that might have been active and enroll at the ED school. The only reason a student can decline an ED acceptance is if the financial aid package is insufficient resulting in the family's inability to afford that school.
Early Decision programs can work to your advantage if you 1) have a clear first-choice college that has emerged after careful research, 2) don't need grades from the first semester of your senior year to bolster your academic record, 3) have the support from your parents and counselor needed to submit a strong early application, and 4) will not have to compare financial aid offers.
Early Action/Early Decision
Most colleges that have an Early Action or Early Decision program have deadlines set for either November 1st or November 15th. As with all college applications, it is the student's responsibility to meet the stated deadlines regardless of whether a student is applying Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision.
Some of the information provided here came from the book Admission Matters by Sally P. Springer, Jon Reider, and Marion R. Franck.