Should I Apply Early Action?

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Crystal Liu
Crystal Liu

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Fall deadlines are fast approaching. You may have noticed that certain colleges offer early action for their acceptance processes. Submit your application early, and you’ll get the result early, too. So, should you apply early action?

As opposed to the early decision (ED) format, early action (EA) applicants can apply to however many EA colleges they desire. The decisions are not binding, and the regular decision (RD) applications are still open for you to work on if you decide to do so later. There won’t be any punishment if you decide not to go with an EA school where you were accepted.

In short, yes, do EA. If you are able to put in the earlier work that is necessary and if the option is available, try your best to go the EA route. It’ll save you time, stress, and the impatience of waiting until spring for results. There’s only room to move up and nothing to lose.

Will early action increase my chances of getting in?

Because the applications are due earlier in the year, the EA applicant pool is always smaller than the number of people who are applying later on. Colleges also tend to accept a greater percentage of applicants from the EA poll than the RD pool. This higher acceptance rate, however, does not necessarily mean that it is easier to get in by applying early action.

The group of students who are aiming for EA generally tend to be more confident about their desire to go to that college and more dedicated to putting in the effort to polish their application. For early decision, this is especially true. Therefore, keep in mind that while it is a smaller pool, EA is also a more competitive pool. There are less fish, but the fish are larger. Make sure that your application is done to the best of your ability, and meets or exceeds the admission standards for that college.

So what’s the catch?

There’s always a catch. In this case, it’s time. While your friends are getting into the groove of senior year and barely beginning to start drafting their Common App essay, you’re already finishing up applications.

If you know that you’ll be swamped with other activities the last two months of the year and won’t have the time needed to be able to dedicate yourself to working on EA applications, then you might want to consider waiting to apply regular decision. Furthermore, when you apply in November or December, EA colleges will not be able to see your first semester grades for senior year yet. If you know that adding those grades to your transcript will make a significant difference in your GPA or course rigor, then RD might also be the better option.

However, applying early means that you could also finish the entire college application process as early as December, instead of having to wait until March or April. Being able to wipe your hands of the stress and uncertainty of not knowing where you’ll be going to college can completely change the last semester of your senior year.

If you have time in late fall and early winter, definitely apply early action to whatever colleges on your list offer that option. Having a list is a great way to narrow down your choices.

Are you having trouble figuring out how to compile the college list that fits best for you? At Empowerly, our admissions experts can help you figure out the colleges of your choice. Schedule a free consultation today.

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