Early Action & Early Decision Deadlines for U.S. Universities

Early action is a type of early admission process for admission to colleges and universities in the United States. Unlike the regular admissions process, early action usually requires students to submit an application by November 1 of their senior year of high school instead of January 1. Students are notified of the school’s decision by mid-December instead of April 1.There are two type of early action programs:

  1. Restrictive early action– In restrictive EA, students are allowed to apply to only one institute of their choice and are restricted from applying to any institution for early decision.
  2. Non-restrictive early action– As the name suggests, there are no restrictions on non-restrictive early action. A student can apply to as many early action institutes as he wants to and an early decision institute.

One thing that is common in restrictive early action as well as non-restrictive early action programs is that the applicant is allowed to reject any offer of admission from any university in both types of early action.

Early decision or early acceptance is a common policy used in college admissions in the United States for admitting freshmen to undergraduate programs. It is used to indicate to the university or college that the candidate considers that institution to be his or her top choice. Candidates applying early decision typically submit their applications by the end of October of their senior year of high school and receive a decision in mid-December. In contrast, students applying “regular decision” typically must submit their applications by January 1 and receive their admissions decision by April 1.


  1. By applying early you will know the result much earlier and hence can plan accordingly.
  2. Reassess options and apply elsewhere if not accepted.
  3. Once you’re accepted by a college, you can start looking for a house and prepare for college as well.
  4. Stress level is reduced by knowing the decision early instead of waiting for the result for a long time.


  1. Rejection is more likely than in the regular admission pool.
  2. Reduced financial aid opportunities. Students applying under ED plans receive offers of admission and financial aid simultaneously, hence these students won’t be able to compare financial aid proposals from all other colleges. If you definitely need financial aid, then applying early might prove risky for you.
  3. There is a pressure to decide on the student as committing to one college is really difficult. Therefore one must explore all options and do a full research before committing to a particular college.

You should apply early only if:

  1. You have done a substantial research on all the colleges.
  2. You’re absolutely sure that the selected college is your first choice.
  3. You have considered all the aspects relating you and the college. For e.g. Academics, social environment, geographical location, financial expenses, etc.
  4. You meet the requirements of the college i.e. SAT scores, GPA, etc.
  5. You are academically strong and have maintained a good record overtime.

Do not apply if you have not done sizable amount of research on all the colleges and therefore are not prepared to commit to a particular college.

When comparing Early Action and Early Decision, remember that early action is non-binding and you do not need to commit to a college whereas early decision is binding and a strong commitment is needed from your side. Early Decision plans have always been surrounded by controversies. It is considered unnecessarily restrictive and unethical for the students who belong to families with low income as they do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers of different colleges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *