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    How do I decide... Early Action or Early Decision?

    2 Minutes Read

    Selective colleges seek to admit students that are highly interested in attending their college partly because their “ranking” is based on how many admitted students accept their offer. Most colleges have three “times of application.” Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Decision.

    Early Decision (ED) means you apply by early fall of 12th grade and receive an admissions decision the same fall. Students may apply ED to one college. To apply ED applicants are required to sign a binding contract that obligates them to attend the college if admitted. Applying ED can improve your probability of admission. The downside is you would not be able to compare financial awards from other colleges.

    Early Action (EA) means students apply early in the fall of 12th grade and typically receive an admission decision the same fall. There is no binding contract so you may apply to as many colleges EA as you choose, but will typically not improve your probability of admission.

    Regular Decision (RD) means students apply by late fall or early winter of 12th grade and receive an admissions decision in spring.

    Early Action Early Decision
    After finalizing your college list you should consider applying ED to a top choice college if cost, i.e. comparing aid packages, is not the most important consideration for your family.
    A lesser-known but growing offshoot of ED is called ED 2 which is offered by a growing number of schools. ED 2 is the same as ED except the deadline is after ED admission decisions have been made. If denied admission to your ED college, applying ED 2 at a second choice that offers the option is another chance to improve your probability of admission.
    We also typically recommend applying EA to as many colleges on your final list as possible to avoid last minute stress and months of anxiety which requires early planning and work. Having said that, there are some students that may be better off in RD if they need to show an upward grade trend or take a standardized test in the fall of 12th grade.
    While applying ED is the ultimate way to demonstrate interest, there are other important ways to do so including making contact with representatives at college fairs and through quality campus visits (don’t just take the tour!). 
    Lastly, at schools other than your ED school(s), it is important to demonstrate Interest in other ways such as college visits, tours, reviewing emails from the schools you are interested in and following them via social media. Whether a school is your top choice or one that is less interesting to you, you will need to treat each school as if it is your top choice because if you don't, schools will know it and they are not offering admission to students whom they believe will not attend if they make an offer.
    Need more guidance? Contact us to schedule a free consultation.