Early Decision vs. Early Action

Applying to college isn’t just a matter of figuring out how or where or why! There’s also when. Colleges offer a variety of application deadlines and it is important to be intentional in your choices because some styles are binding!. Below are the most common types of decisions and what they mean.


1. Early Decision

Early Decision is the strictest. It is a binding decision meaning if you apply early decision to a school and are accepted you must go to that school. The only exception is if the financial aid package is not enough to make attendance viable. Early Decision is an excellent choice only for your top school so that if you get in you’re excited to attend!

2. Early Action

Early Action is non-binding. If you get into a school early action and are accepted you can still wait until the traditional May 1 decision deadline. It is a good way to show a school that it is your top choice without the strict commitment of early decision.

3. Restricted Early Action

Restricted Early Action is a mix of the two. It is non-binding but you may only apply to this one school early. This shows a higher level of commitment than normal early action and should again be reserved only for your top choice school.

4. Rolling Admissions

Rolling admissions allow you to get your admissions decision proportionate to when you submitted your application–the sooner you submit, the sooner you hear back! This is helpful for easing the stress of waiting until March without the tough commitment decisions of the styles above.

Deferrals: If you apply to a school early and are deferred, this means your application has been put into the regular decision pool and you will hear a final decision in (usually) March when the rest of the decisions come out!

What now?

The deadlines for many Early Decision and Early Action programs are approaching so hopefully your applications are well on their way! The application process is certainly tiring but don’t forget to keep working on your regular decision applications while waiting to hear early offers (the UCs are due on Nov. 30 for example!) Choose wisely!

Questions? Let us know!