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Early Action vs. Early Decision: Should you apply early?

Applying to multiple colleges can be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Do you have a particular college on your list that catches your eye more than the others? If so, Early Action or Early Decision may be right for you. First, however, it is crucial that you know the difference between the two.

College Admissions

Early Action is non-binding. Non-binding means that if you apply to the college early and get accepted, you do not have to go there. You now simply have the peace of mind knowing that you have been accepted into one of your top choices. Early Decision, on the other hand, is binding. This means that if you are accepted to the college as an early decision applicant, you must attend that school. Here are some things you should know about applying early:

Early Action

  • Apply early
  • Non-binding
  • You can apply to multiple colleges EA
  • Deadlines generally fall around November (college deadlines may vary)
  • Receive an early admission decision (generally around January)
  • Commit to your college no later than May 1st


Early Decision

  • Apply early
  • Binding
  • You can only apply to one college ED
  • You can apply to other colleges regular decision (if you are accepted ED however, you must withdraw all other college applications)
  • Receive an early admission decision (usually around December)
  • Commit to your college well before, but no later than, May 1st


What to keep in mind

  • Just because you apply EA or ED, that does not mean you are guaranteed to be accepted
  • EA and ED programs vary from school to school, so as soon as you can, get as much information from the school as possible
  • Make sure you have a backup plan if you do not get accepted to your top choice
  • It is crucial that you meet your deadlines — once an EA or ED deadline passes, you must apply regular decision
  • If you apply ED you will not have the ability to compare financial aid offers

Like all things in life, there are both pros and cons of applying early to colleges. If you like to be ahead of the game and know you want to apply early, you should recognize the difference between early action and early decision. Before you choose one or the other, weigh the pros and the cons of each and decide which option is best for you.

Article submitted by NextStepU | By Alexa Styliadis.

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