College Admissions: Early Action versus Early Decision

Last updated on November 15, 2017

For many high school students applying to colleges, they might feel like Jerry Seinfeld doing stand-up when it comes to this particular question:

What’s the deal with Early Action versus Early Decision? Is it like getting an invite to the school before anyone else?

Hmmm. Kind of. And in fact, more and more students are taking advantage of early admissions opportunities, according to US News, so it’s definitely something to consider when it comes to the college application process.

Let’s break it down to the main difference between the two:

Early Action

It’s a nonbinding plan, which means students will receive early notification of whether they’ve been accepted, but they do not have to commit to the college until the normal deadline date.

Early Decision

It’s a binding plan, which means students accepted through this process MUST attend the college.

A way to remember this is that Early Action means you’re just being proactive with your college application process; Early Decision means you must make a decision to go to the school if you are accepted.

Early Decision and Early Action Comparison

Who should use the Early Action plan?

The EA plan is good for students who:

  • Want to get a head start on the application/admissions process
  • Want to have an idea of whether they’re accepted by January/February
  • Have a few different schools in mind and want time to narrow it down

Who should use the Early Decision plan?

The ED plan is good for students who:

  • Want to get a head start on the application/admissions process
  • Believe that the school offering ED is their first-choice school
  • Will only apply to one particular school through ED, applying to other schools regular decision
  • Want to know if they get into their first-choice school by December (usually)
  • Can send their deposit in way before the regular decision deadline

Note: Applying Early Decision often looks good to Admissions, as these students are showing a sense of commitment to the school before they even start classes.

So there you have it. Whether you apply Early Action or Early Decision, you want to make sure you research the school or schools you apply to. Naturally, College Prowler is always a resource for such information.

Are you planning on taking advantage of early admissions opportunities?