Early Action vs. Early Decision: What's the Difference?

tl;dr: Consider applying early action or early decision if you're 100% sure the school is for you, have a plan to pay for tuition, and want to show demonstrated interest. Make sure to research the school and meet deadlines, and don't forget to talk to your counselor or advisor for advice. Good luck with your college admissions process!

What is Early Action? What is Early Decision? 💻✏️

Early action is submitting your application at an earlier deadline and receiving your admissions decision earlier. It is non-binding, meaning you can apply to more than one school early-decision and consider all financial aid offers before choosing a school. Early decision is similar in that you submit and hear back from the college earlier, but the difference is that it is binding. If you are accepted early decision, you agree that you must reject all other offers and attend that school.

Should I Apply Early Action or Early Decision? 🤔

There are reasons you might apply early action, early decision, or regular decision for each school. Consider your options carefully. Here are some tips to help you out.

Early Action and Early Decision Tips and Advice

  • Some schools actually waive their app fees for early action/priority decision.
  • Early action is a great option because you’re committing only to turning your app in early in exchange for hearing back early.  
  • Early decision is restrictive, but it does up your chances of admission. If you’re 100% sure the school is for you AND you have a plan to pay in case the financial aid they offer you is insufficient, then early decision is a good choice.
  • It takes a special level of interest and dedication to do early decision/restricted early action. If you're one of those people who have those things, then early decision/restricted early action is beautiful for you.
  • Applying early action or early decision can help show demonstrated interest. Find out other ways to show demonstrated interest, and which colleges consider it.
  • If you're a procrastinator or want to take time to double-check all your details and are applying to several state or public schools, go for regular decision!
  • Make sure to talk to your counselor/advisor about your early decision school choice! They may offer different insight or options for you to consider.
  • Early action can increase your financial aid package. 🤑 Applying for early action shows dedication and commitment!
  • Check the school’s requirements for early action/early decision. Some may require a mid-year transcript before they will consider your application, and most high schools don’t have them until late December/early January.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to an admissions advisor regarding early action and early decision. This shows dedication and concern for your education on your part!
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make the early action or early decision deadline! Most colleges and universities offer a later deadline for regular decision😌
  • Be sure to research the university before applying for early decision. These applications are legally binding if you do get in, so you want to be sure that it is a school you love!😍
  • Use this college application checklist to keep track of all of the schools you are applying early action, early decision, and regular decision to.

Hopefully these tips helped you learn the difference between early action, early decision, and regular decision. All are great options depending on your situation. Choose wisely, and good luck with your college admissions process!

For more information on deadlines for the college process in general, check out this guide!

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