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The Benefits of Early Decision and Early Action in College Applications

When it comes to college admissions, two concepts come running back over and over again. Of course, we’re talking about Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA). But if you’re just a high school fresher, these terms may not make much sense to you. Even if you know what they are, you might be confused about which route to take. 

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Let us help. 


When you’re considering college admissions, it's important to understand the distinctions between Early Decision and Early Action. While both are application options that allow you to apply earlier than the standard deadline, they’re not the same.

For starters, Early Decision is a binding agreement. If you're accepted through ED, you commit to attending that school and must withdraw applications to other colleges. ED deadlines typically fall in November, with decisions released in December by colleges. It’s a great option if you're set on one particular school and want to show your commitment.

Early Action, on the other hand, is non-binding. You can apply to multiple schools through EA and still wait until the standard decision deadline to commit. EA deadlines also tend to be in November, but decisions are released later than ED, usually in January or February. It’s more flexible than ED and allows you to weigh multiple offers without the pressure of immediate commitment.

If you’re torn between ED and EA, your decision is going to depend on your readiness to commit and your top school preferences. ED's binding nature is beneficial if you're sure about a particular school, while EA provides more flexibility and time to make your final decision. 

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What’s the best way to go about it, you ask? Well, we believe it’s by weighing the benefits. 


So, what benefits can you expect if you go for Early Decision during your college application? Let’s find out.  

Better Acceptance Rates

Applying Early Decision often leads to a better acceptance rate than a Regular Decision. It’s a no-brainer that colleges favor ED applicants because they show strong commitment. If you've thoroughly researched your preferred college and you’re adamant about getting in, ED can improve your chances of acceptance.

Demonstrated Interest

Colleges pay attention to applicants who clearly show dedication. When you apply ED it automatically indicates that you’re genuinely interested in the institution. Admissions officers really value this kind of dedication. 

If you apply to ED, it can give you the edge you need as schools appreciate knowing you're fully committed to attending.

Reduced Application Stress

When you submit an ED application, it means you'll receive a decision earlier than those who apply Regular Decision. An earlier acceptance lets you finalize your college plans sooner, reducing the stress and uncertainty associated with waiting for multiple results.

Financial Aid Considerations

While ED's binding nature may limit financial aid options, colleges sometimes offer more favorable aid packages to ED applicants to entice them to attend. However, you must research the financial implications carefully. As you must attend the school if accepted, you don’t want to get stuck with a deal you hate.

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Now that you’re aware of what Early Decision brings to the table, what about the benefits of Early Action?

Non-Binding Commitment

One of the main benefits of Early Action is its non-binding nature. You can apply to multiple colleges through EA. The best part is that you don’t have to commit immediately. This flexibility allows you to consider several options before making a final decision.

Early Notification

With EA, you'll receive admission decisions sooner than those applying Regular Decision. Early notification helps you plan your next steps with less stress, as you’ll know which schools have accepted you before the main application season ends. 

While this overlaps with ED, ED is better as it gives you more time to plan your college life. 

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Unlike Early Decision, Early Action allows you to compare offers from different Ivy League universities. The extra time you get can go a long way in evaluating financial aid packages and considering the best fit for your academic goals.?

Additional Application Opportunities

If you're not accepted through Early Action, you can still apply to other schools through Regular Decision. This allows you more chances to secure admission into colleges that might be a better fit.


So, which route do you want to take? As we’ve already established, ED is ideal if you have a clear top-choice school and are ready to commit fully. The binding nature of ED shows you're committed to that college, and applying to ED can give you an edge in the admissions process. However, the commitment also means you won't have the flexibility to consider other offers. And if you’re rejected, you won’t be able to reapply through the regular decision for the same college in the same application cycle.

On the other hand, EA offers flexibility with a non-binding commitment. This path allows you to apply to multiple schools early and make your decision after comparing financial aid packages and program offerings. EA is best if you want the advantage of early admission without the pressure of committing to a single school. It gives you more time to make an informed decision and evaluate your options.

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Admissions consultants, such as an Ivy League admissions consulting firm can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of the ED and EA processes. Their expertise can guide you through selecting the right path based on your unique situation and goals.

Among many services, the following can help you with ED and EA: 

  • Application Strategy: Professional consultants can help you decide between ED and EA by assessing your academic profile, extracurriculars, and preferences to find the best fit.

  • Essay Guidance: They also assist in crafting compelling personal statements that highlight your strengths. Whether you go for ED or EA, a strong personal essay goes a long way.

  • Timeline Management: Maintaining the deadlines for ED and EA applications is critical to success. Professionals can help you stay organized and stress-free during these trying times. 

  • Interview Preparation: Last but not least, professionals provide tailored practice sessions to sharpen your interview skills and boost your confidence.

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Unsplash


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