Get to Know About Early Action and Early Decision and the Difference

US College applications can be stressful and confusing. You will have a hundred questions in your mind before or while applying. The good news is that you are not the only confused one amidst all of the chaos. Once you do your research right, things will begin to seem simpler. For applicants who have done their research and are sure of what college they want to be a part of, early admissions can help them gain more control over the entire process. It is also the perfect way of knowing whether your first-choice college will accept you. A little preparation hurts nobody, right?  Keep reading to find out almost everything you need to know about Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA). And mind you, both of these admission programs vary significantly. 

Take a deep breath buddy. We got you covered with all you need to know about early admission college programs! 

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First things first, we need to have a clear understanding of the difference between Early Action and Early Decision.

Early Decision is a rigid and more binding process. If you are one of those people who have their grades, recommendations and other formalities sorted, you can go for it. Keep in mind that you can only apply to only one college under early decision. US colleges send out their responses to early decision students in December which is much earlier than the usual time it takes to receive a response. Early action is way more flexible as students can apply at multiple colleges at once. They get a response from the college in January or February but they do not need to commit as it is a non-binding procedure. But they need to decide till the regular decision deadline for early action application is May 1.

Another factor that you need to take into consideration is that you might not get to compare and choose between multiple financial aid offers from colleges. This is considered somewhat unfair for students who do not have a strong financial background. So, if finding a decent financial aid is high priority for you, ED might not be a good idea. However, students who have applied to a college under ED can apply to other colleges under the regular admission plans. A student who is accepted under early decision is liable to attend that college and withdraw their application from others. So, it is best to be absolutely sure about the college you want to attend while applying for ED.

Pros of applying through early admission programs:

  • Students get extra time to explore options in case their first choice college does not accept them.
  • Getting admissions through early applications gives you more time to find affordable and best student accommodation. Housing gets more expensive if you look around at the last minute.
  • Lesser time spent waiting for a response from college.
  • Early admission programs undoubtedly reduce stress.

Cons of applying through early admission programs:

  • Early decision application requires a commitment to one university. Students don’t get to explore other options.
  • Students might miss out on better financial aid packages offered by other universities.
  • All applicants of early action and early decision are almost equally qualified. So, it is harder to make your application stand out among a bunch of prodigies. 

Both ED and EA are beneficial primarily for students who have decided on their college after thorough research. The ones who haven’t done that should avoid early applications. Many students apply through early action or early decision just to avoid truckload of paperwork. Don’t go through the process just because your friends are. There needs to be a lot of thinking beforehand. There are only 20% colleges that offer early action and early decision. So, making a list of early action colleges and early decision colleges will come in handy during the process. We are sure that having a clear understanding of the difference between early action and early decision will make things easier for you. But wait, there’s more! 

Top colleges that offer early action:

Caltech November 1
Georgetown November 1
MIT November 1
Princeton November 1
Stanford November 1
University of Chicago November 1
University of Virginia November 1
Yale November 1


*Make sure to check out the official websites of all these universities because some of them offer restrictive early action every year. 

Also, check their early decision and early action acceptance rates and early application deadlines.

Last-minute bonus tips:

  • Proofread your application a thousand times. Okay, maybe a thousand is an exaggeration but writing a good application is not possible without extensive proofreading. Keep adding more magic into your application with every additional draft.
  • Feel free to talk to your college counselor at any step of the process. Avoid even the tiniest form of confusion.
  • Browse through the early action acceptance rate of different colleges. 
  • Continue working on regular admission applications simultaneously.


Remember that rejection is not the end of the world. You WILL get in somewhere. Don’t stress yourself out too much and enjoy the holiday season. You deserve it! 


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