Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision?

It’s that time of the year again. Many high school seniors and students in their last year of secondary school are reviewing their university/college lists, writing their essays, and filling out forms– including me!

With most school applications come deadlines, but not all of them are the same; each deadline is linked to a decision.

Each student is different, and one may want to prioritize a school or two over the others while another may wish to give them all the same weight.  There are three types of decisions that may help you show your commitment to a school, and I’m here to help you figure them out.

The three types of application decisions are early action, early decision, and regular decision. You may use two of these decisions, one of them, or all three! Your use of them, though, must adhere to the rules of each school you are applying to. Trying to break the rules can result in the withdrawal of an acceptance offer.

Early action is typically a non-binding agreement– meaning that a student does not have to attend the school upon acceptance. The benefit of this decision is that you can use it to apply to one of your top choices to show them your interest and get the decision back earlier than just the regular decision pool of students. This decision is often used for more than one school, but it might be considered unethical to try to use it for most or all of your schools.

Early decision is for the student who knows for sure what school they want to go to, no matter what. It is a binding agreement, so upon acceptance, the student must rescind all applications to other schools and attend that school in the fall/spring. Students who choose this apply in November or December and receive the school’s decision typically in December or January (if they’re applying for the next fall). This decision is not for everyone because it requires that you officially attend that school. With this decision, you are not able to compare packages from different schools before reaching a decision; you have to accept whatever your early decision school offers you. For some people, like those looking for financial aid packages, this may not be the best choice because there may not be a lot of aid options. For others, who want to show the school how serious they are about getting in, this may be the perfect thing to do. Either way, you’re left to look within yourself and see what you value most.

Regular decision is more common because it is always non-binding. With regular decision, though, you get the school’s decision at a later time than early action or early decision– usually between February and April. Still, this might be the safest option of the three because it allows you to apply to as many schools as you want without worrying about rejecting them all if one accepts you. It also keeps you from being anxious for a few months while waiting to receive the rest of their decisions if you’ve already received one or two of them. Regular decision gives you the most time to prepare your application since the deadline is later than that of early action and early decision.

And we’re done! Now you know what each type of decision is and how it affects you! So go out there and apply in a way that best suits you, because nobody knows what you want better than you do.

For more information on EA and ED, check out the College Board website.



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