College Admissions: Early Decision and Early Action

Early decision - may secure your first choice school.
Do you have a high school senior?
Are they in the middle of applying to colleges?
Do they have a favorite - first choice?
Have they considered early decision or early action?


Many parents are not aware of the early decision option if your teen has a strong desire for a specific college and believe they are a perfect candidate for them.

What is early decision and early action?  There are slight differences you and your teen need to understand.

You should understand the differences between early decision and early action before sending in your applications. Keep in mind that the rules may vary somewhat by college. Check with your counselor to make sure you understand your rights and obligations.

Below are some important facts about the types of early-application plan.

Early decision plans are binding. You agree to attend the college if it accepts you and offers an adequate financial aid package. Although you can apply to only one college for early decision, you may apply to other colleges through the regular admission process. If you're accepted by your first-choice college early, you must withdraw all other applications.

Early action plans are similar to early decision plans, but are not binding. If you’ve been accepted, you can choose to commit to the college immediately, or wait until the spring. Under these plans, you may also apply early action to other colleges. Usually, you have until the late spring to let the college know your decision.

Single-choice early action is a new option offered by a few colleges. This plan works the same way as other early action plans, but candidates may not apply early (either early action or early decision) to any other college. You can still apply to other colleges under regular decision plans and are not required to give your final answer to the early-application college until the regular decision deadline.

If you find a college that you're sure is right for you, consider applying early. Early decision and early action plans allow you to apply early (usually in November) and get an admission decision from the college well before the usual spring notification date. You know by December or January whether you've been accepted at your first-choice college.

Sometimes, students who apply under these plans have a better chance of acceptance than they would through the regular admission process. These plans are also good for colleges because they get students who really want to go to the college to commit early in the process.

Source: College Board


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