The Early Bird Gets the Worm?

by | Mar 2, 2020 | Campus Life, College Planning | 0 comments

Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Admission. What the difference?

Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Admission.  These terms can be confusing and it is important to understand the difference between them.  Both Early Action and Early Decision have the benefit of enabling students to receive notification of admission early (students submit applications in the fall and often receive notice by December of the same year) and this can alleviate undo stress during the student’s senior year of high school. But, the benefit of knowing the next step early in the process can have its drawbacks.  The difference between Early Action and Early Decision has to do with the issue of a “binding agreement”; students who apply Early Decision are contractually obligated to attend the school to which they are admitted. Students can only apply Early Decision to ONE school, lest there be any conflict of interest should multiple schools make offers of admission. If students apply Early Action, then they receive the benefit of early admission decisions, but are not bound to attend the admitting school.  Why then would anyone choose Early Decision over Early Action? Often students are not given this choice as most institutions offer either/or and not both.  There are advantages to applying early and serious students who are certain of their first choice should consider these options.

When you apply early, you are entering a significantly smaller admission pool than Regular Decision applicants; this is the primary benefit. A college/university ultimately wants the highest yield they can achieve with a Freshman class.  This yield is the percentage of applicants who attend after being offered admission.  When schools offer admission to Early Decision applicants, they have a guaranteed yield. Applying early to a school is the surest way to show interest in the institution and “demonstrated interest” is one of the key factors admission officers use to determine if they will extend an offer of admission. The acceptance rate is generally higher for Early Decision than Early Action, though both show statistically higher acceptance rates than Regular Admission.  

There are also Restricted Early Action or Single-Choice Earl Action hybrids where certain institutions (some Ivys), for example) require that you declare you are only applying to their institution Early Action, but you are not contractually obligated to attend if accepted.  Every institution is different and the applicant interested in pursuing early options should be sure to do their research before making this commitment. There are both advantages and disadvantages with early admissions and it is important for students to weigh their options.  Compass Academics can help make this process easier by researching schools of interest and helping the student make an informed decision.


Compass Academics

You Might Also Like:

Common App vs. Coalition App: Understanding the Difference

Common App vs. Coalition App: Understanding the Difference

It may be hard to imagine now, but before the ubiquity of the computer, applying to college was a much more time-consuming and tedious chore where applicants and counselors had to write/type answers to the same questions on every application; there wasn't even a cut...

read more
How to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

How to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

A strong letter of recommendation can do a lot to help your application for admission or a scholarship stand out from the crowd. A great letter couched in lots of details that bring you to life for the committee can even be a force that helps override weaknesses...

read more


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *