Early Action and Early Decisions for College Admissions

More and more, students who apply by early decision or early action have much higher chances of being accepted.

If you are a top student who wants to gain admission to an elite college, your chance of acceptance will be much higher if you apply to the school of your choice via the early action or early decision application process. These programs have some important differences, earlier deadlines and contract-like decisions that are vital for you to understand. You must be completely sure that you want to attend a school that you apply to by early decision because you will have to attend there if you are accepted. The early action process is not completely restricted, allowing you more freedom of choice.

Making the Choice the Going Ivy Way

Going Ivy is a team of educational experts, tutors and counselors who are focused on helping high school students to unlock their highest potential so that they can improve their chances of gaining admission to the schools of their dreams. We understand the strategy used by colleges in their early programs and how students can take advantage. We are able to help you to decide whether applying to college via early decision, early action, restrictive early action or regular action is most appropriate. There are some important things that you should understand about each different application type.

Early Decision vs. Early Action: What’s the Difference?

Early decision is available at some highly selective schools, including University of Pennsylvania, Amherst and NYU. Students apply to schools via the early decision process if they are 100 percent certain that they want to attend. If they are accepted, their attendance at the school is mandatory regardless of their acceptance to other institutions.

Early action is another type of early application process, and it is not binding. You can apply early action to a school to get an earlier decision, but your attendance will not be mandatory. You still have until May 1 to make your decision about where you’ll enroll, weighing any other acceptance offers you receive. Early action applications may be submitted to more than one institution at the same time.

Some schools such as Harvard, Stanford and Georgetown offer a restrictive early action process. With it, you are only allowed to apply to a single school by restrictive early action and not apply early decision anywhere else. You are not bound to attend there if you are accepted; you’ll still have until May 1 to make your enrollment decision.

Why Choose to Apply by Early Decision or Early Action?

Students who apply by early decision or early action have much higher chances of being accepted than do students who apply through the schools’ regular decision application processes. For instance, 5,384 students applied to Cornell via its early decision application for the class of 2021. Out of those who applied via early decision, 25.6 percent were accepted. By contrast, Cornell’s total acceptance rate for the class of 2021 was 12.5 percent.

When you apply via early decision or restrictive early action, you should be certain that you wish to attend the school because of the restrictions. You may only choose one school to apply to by either of these scenarios.

Early action is not restricted or binding, making it a good choice if you are highly interested in a certain school but are not entirely sure. Applying early action to a college lets its admissions committee know that they are a top choice for you, making them possibly view you more favorably. However, if you later decide you’d rather attend a different school, you will be able to do so.

When Should You Not Apply Early?

Applying by either early decision or by early action is not a good choice for some students. If you need your fall semester to bring up your GPA or to retake your ACT or SAT, the regular application process is a better option. You will then have more time to work to bring up your grades and scores by getting tutoring and taking preparation courses.

Some students prefer to apply by early action or regular action because they want to be able to compare the financial aid packages that are offered to them by multiple schools. However, if your primary worry is financial aid, it is important that you understand that many elite institutions offer generous financial aid packages. If you have excellent scores, grades and extracurriculars before the fall semester of your senior year, you might want to check with your top choice school to learn more about the types of financial aid that they might offer to students to give you a better idea. Doing so may make it easier for you to decide about applying via early decision or restrictive early action to your top-choice school.

For more advice on applying early decision or early action, read this article featuring Going Ivy founder and CEO Erin Goodnow.

Contact Going Ivy for More Help

The experts at Going Ivy can sit down with you, review your academic record and help you to determine whether or not applying via early action, restrictive early action, early decision or regular action is in your best interests. If you need help with raising your grades or your scores, we can help you to do so through our one-on-one tutoring and preparation services. Contact us today to learn more about how we might be able to help you with all aspects of the college application and admissions process. Our goal is to help you to reach yours.


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