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Early Decision vs. Early Action

As we approach college application season and students start and finish their college applications over the summer, it is time to consider if applying Early Action or Early Decision is right for you. Early Action is a non-binding type of admission, meaning you do not have to attend if accepted. Early Decision is binding. If you get admitted under Early Decision, you must attend.

Here are the three things to consider when deciding if Early Decision is right for you:

  1. Do you want to attend this school no matter what? If you are not 100% sure you want to attend a college, do not apply for Early Decision. Early Decision is only for students who are absolutely positive that they will attend college.
  2. Is this financially viable? Early Decision often means that you cannot consider each school’s financial aid packages. If money is an issue depending on where you apply, Early Decision might not be for you.
  3. How strong is your application? If you didn’t get good grades junior year, perhaps you want to wait to apply for Regular Decision so that admissions officers can see your first-semester senior year grades.

In recent years, people have questioned whether Early Decision gives students a better chance of being admitted into a school. While Early Decision acceptance rates are generally 10-12% higher than Regular Decision applicants, this could reflect that stronger profiled students who generally decide to apply for Early Decision. It is important to note that recruited student-athletes are often included in the Early Decision acceptance rate pool. Below is a table that includes acceptance rate percentages for various colleges and universities across the country.