Early Decision – for students who are really sure of their first-choice school and are ready to accept an offer of admission (and financial aid package, if applicable). Early Decision application deadlines typically fall between October 30 – December 1. Students are notified during December and January. Deadlines vary by school.
Applying ED carries certain expectations:
- That the college you applied to is your first-choice and you will accept the offer of admission.
- That you will apply to only one school as an ED applicant.
- That acceptance of an offer admission is binding.
- It is expected that you will withdraw all applications to other institutions.
Early Action (a.k.a. Early Action I) – for students who want to apply early (before the regular application deadline). Of the college admission application types, this is one for which the offer of admission is non-binding, meaning you are not under any obligation to accept the offer of admission. The Early Action option makes sense for students who are sure of their first-choice college but don’t want the restrictions that come with applying as an ED applicant.
Early consideration for competitive majors (where number of available slots could be limited) is a great benefit to applying Early Action. Access to certain scholarship opportunities could be significant as well (details and opportunities will vary by institution and program).
Early Action II – similar to EA I, but with a later deadline (still prior to the regular admissions deadline). Same conditions apply: non-binding; ideal for students with top/first-choice schools.
Not Ready to Apply Early?
If the timing’s not right to apply early then Regular Decision works just fine.
Regular Decision – means you will apply by a specified date that usually falls between January and March, after which application review typically begins. Students will be notified by a certain date in the spring (usually by early April since the national candidate reply date to accept the offer of admission is May 1).
Rolling Admissions – Applications are accepted and reviewed on an on-going basis. Students are typically notified withing 2-4 weeks following submission.
Always check with each college you’re considering to find out which of the above application methods “apply” to their institution.
Related: When to hit “submit”