Whitefield Academy Blog

Early Action vs. Early Decision: Applying to College

by | Oct 3, 2018 | College, Upper School | 0 comments

Did you do a lot of college exploration your junior year? Are you absolutely committed to your first choice school? Are you a fantastic candidate for admission and are you positive you want to go there? If this is the case, an early action or early decision application may be for you.

What Is “Early Action”?

Applying early action means that a student will receive an acceptance or rejection long before spring from the university, usually mid-December. The student, however, does not have to commit to that university and may continue to apply to other schools or may apply early action to multiple schools.

What Is “Early Decision”?

Early decision applications require a commitment on the part of the student. A student who applies early decision agrees to attend if accepted.This means that once you receive an enrollment offer in the late fall, usually December, you will have already agreed to attend that university. It is a binding agreement.

The Due Date

More than 400 colleges accept early applications of some kind; click here for a complete list. Most early applications are due between October 31st and November 15th, but applicants should check with the university admissions office to be sure of actual deadlines. It is also important to note that all official documents (transcript, recommendations, test scores) must be received by the school’s required date.

The Downside

Early action applications have no real downside because they require no commitment.  You might even see a large benefit in applying with early action because you have your college plan squared away while others are still applying. Committing to a university through early decision, however, means that you will not get a chance to compare financial aid offers. You also may not change your mind.  Early decision applications should be taken very seriously.

Applying Early Decision

If you plan to applying using an early decision application, you should be sure you do the following:

  • Research colleges extensively
  • Be absolutely sure that the college is the first choice
  • Find a college that is a strong match academically, socially and geographically
  • Meet or exceed the admission profile for the college for SAT scores, GPA and class rank
  • Have an academic record that has been consistently solid over time
  • Do not need financial aid or extensive scholarship money

Remember that since early application replies do not come until mid-December, students choosing early decision will have just two weeks to get other applications sent if they receive a denial. We advise that other applications be ready just in case the first choice school doesn’t see you as their first choice.

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