Which Is Right For Me: An Early Decision Or Early Action Application?

Is early decision or early action right for you?

Flickr user Marco Verch

If you have thought through your college options carefully and have found a school that meets all your requirements, you may benefit from an early decision or early action application. However, both of these options come with a few pros and cons that you should know about, just in case you change your mind and decide that you want to attend another college.

Knowing when an early decision or early action application may be the right choice for you as well as the implications of each of these options is important so that you can make a decision you won’t regret.

What is Early Decision?

If you feel strongly this is the best-fit school for you, then applying as an Early Decision, or ED student is a good idea.

How do you decide if it is the best fit for you? If you’ve seen the campus, met some current students and the classes, facilities, atmosphere, cafeteria food and dorms are exactly what you want, then that is it—you’ve found the school of your dreams. Once you’ve made up your mind, you send out your Early Decision Application early, by November.

Pros of Early Decision

The advantage of applying as an ED student is that you will receive an admission decision from the school well in advance of the regular notification dates. This will give you ample time to put some solid plans in place and make all of your financial arrangements. It can also give you higher acceptance odds.

Cons of Early Decision

The biggest drawback to an Early Decision Application is that it is binding. This means, if your application is accepted, you must attend this school and withdraw all your other applications. You must be very sure about your choice of school. Another disadvantage is that you do not get a chance to compare financial aid offers from other colleges. If financial aid matters to you, this could be a major factor.

What Is Early Action?

Early Action is slightly different from Early Decision in that you apply early and receive an admission decision early but you do not have to commit to attending that college until the regular deadline that is applicable to all prospective students.

This may be the right option for you if you have done your research and have found your dream school, but you want to keep your options open to compare admission and financial aid offers from other schools.

Pros of Early Action

The advantage of applying as an EA student is that you will know early on whether or not you have been accepted into your dream school. AND, you can still wait and compare other offers. It’s like getting the best of both worlds. Early action is a great way to demonstrate an interest in a college as well, meaning you get kudos.

Cons of Early Action

When you apply early, your acceptance will be based on your junior year grades. If they weren’t your best, this could hurt your chances of getting accepted. Also, you may not know your ACT/SAT scores yet. If you have any doubts about your test performance or if you think your fall semester grades show a marked improvement over your junior year grades, this may not be the right choice for you.

Discuss your options with your family and school guidance counselor and understand the benefits and drawbacks of each before you decide on either an Early Decision or Early Action Application.

Use College Raptor’s free college match tool to check out your acceptance odds at any college in the country!