When applying to college, taking advantage of early application deadlines can often make a significant difference in the college admission decisions.
Of the thousands of colleges in the United States, approximately 450 offer Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA), in addition to Regular Decision. Some even offer all three. ED and EA deadlines are typically between October 15 and November 15.
Applying Early = A Higher Chance of Being Accepted
Many colleges are admitting large numbers of their incoming class from the early application pool. At International College Counselors, we’ve followed the trends and can confirm that schools are reporting higher acceptance rates for Early Action and Early Decision applicants than for those who apply Regular Decision.
Tulane, for one, admitted two-thirds of their freshman class last year through Early Decision I and II. Brown and Yale this year admitted roughly half of their incoming classes early.
Early Action vs. Early Decision
Early Decision (ED) is binding, while Early Action (EA) is not. “Binding” means the student is committed to attend that school if they are accepted through Early Decision. Schools with Early Decision options include Boston College, Brown, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Tufts, and Vanderbilt, among many. If a student is admitted Early Decision, they must immediately withdraw all other applications and send in their enrollment deposit to the ED school.
Early Action is a non-binding application deadline; students have until May 1 to decide whether or not they want to enroll at a school where they are admitted EA. Students may also apply to more than one school through Early Action.
Restrictive Early Action (REA), another early application deadline, is sometimes referred to as Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA). This nonbinding option is offered by Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Georgetown. With this choice, students apply Early Action to just that school and may not apply ED nor EA elsewhere (with certain exceptions). Note that each REA school has different “rules” about applying REA, so be sure to read each website carefully when considering this option.
A number of schools also offer Early Decision II. Unlike traditional Early Decision programs, ED2 allows students to wait until later in the admissions cycle (January) to apply. It also allows students who have been turned down by their ED1 school to apply ED2 to a different one,  should they choose.
The Impact of Applying Early on Students
If a student chooses to apply ED1, they should submit to a school where they have a solid chance of getting in. We advise students not to “throw away” their ED1 on a school that is unlikely to admit them. (Applying early helps, but it doesn’t work miracles.) In the case that a student is denied through Early Decision 1, applying for the second round of Early Decision (ED2) at another institution is a good plan, but not nearly as strong a move as applying in the first round of Early Decision. Thus, where a student applies ED1 is most important.
Because students admitted ED must withdraw all other submitted applications (and not apply to any others), applying ED means they will not be able to compare financial aid packages from other schools. Thus, the Early Decision option is not necessarily a good choice for families seeking financial aid.
For more clarification on these application options, join ICC counselor Beth Barteletti on August 3 at 7 PM for a webinar entitled Application Deadlines and College Decisions: What Do They All Mean?
The question for applicants becomes, “To which school or schools do I apply early?”
For help with Early Action and Early Decision strategies, work with an advisor from International College Counselors. Contact us at please call 1-954-414-9986 or visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.


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