All Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) college application programs are NOT created equal!

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: August 26, 2014

Early Decision - Score At The TopTypically, applying Early Action to a college gives you the opportunity to find out if you’re accepted – or not :-( – earlier in the application cycle than the date that most students hear from the school. Basically, you apply early – usually by November 1 or November 15 – months before most colleges’ regular application deadline date. And you typically get your admission decision in early December (what a great holiday gift if you get in!). When you apply to a college though its Regular Decision plan, you usually find out your status in March or April. Wouldn’t you like to know early if you’re in or not?

Early Action is not binding; that is, if you’re admitted, you do NOT have to go (as opposed to Early Decision, which is binding). In fact, applying Early Action often improves your chances for admission, and it certainly makes your senior year in high school much less stressful when you get some earlier admission decisions.

So my best advice is to apply Early Action to all the colleges on your list that offer this option. You can still apply Early Decision to your top-choice college, if that option is offered. And applying Early Decision to that one school that’s your top choice will improve your chances for admission! We want to stress that in the first round of Early Decision, you may apply to only ONE college that way. Yes, you can also apply to ONE college in the second round of Early Decision if you are not accepted during first round, assuming your dream college offers a second round of Early Decision.

BUT – some colleges’ “Early” plans have restrictions… so be careful:



Restrictive EA Plan


Boston College

Can apply to other colleges EA, but 

cannot apply to any other college ED

Competitive candidates who are not admitted will be reconsidered for Regular Decision; 20% of those candidates will then be admitted.


Can apply to other colleges EA, but 

cannot apply to any other college ED

Admit or defer (no deny); 10-15% of those deferred will eventually be admitted


EA acceptance rate very similar to regular-decision acceptance rate


Cannot apply early elsewhere in the fall under Single Choice Early Action or Early Decision programs


Exception: can apply to public institutions under rolling or other non-binding programs

This policy was reinstated for students applying for admission for fall 2012

Notre Dame


Can apply to other colleges EA, but

cannot apply to any other college ED

This is a new policy for student applying for 2015.


Cannot apply to an early program at any other private institution


Exception: can apply early to any public institution, as long as the decision is nonbinding

This policy was reinstated for students applying for admission for fall 2012


Topics: College Admission Test-Prep College Application


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