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Blog #7: COLLEGE ADMISSIONS - Early Decision and Early Action Admissions Options

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

We are well into the fall, and this is the season where high school seniors are applying to college. The college admissions process can be confusing and stressful. We want to alleviate some of that stress for you, the parents, by sharing important information on the various aspects of the admissions process.


This blog is on the Early Action and Early Decision admissions cycles. What that is, who should apply early, and how to manage the early admissions decisions that will come out later this month (in December).


Now that we are well into the fall season, there are many high school seniors who have applied to college already under the Early Decision and Early Action admissions cycles. About 450 colleges have early decision or early action admission cycles, and some have both.


Most colleges will allow you to apply early in one of two ways – Early Decision or Early Action. Admissions decisions will be coming out for these admissions cycles starting in mid-December and well into January. Here is what expect for your seniors as they receive decisions in these early cycles. This is also good information for your juniors as they begin to think about their college strategies for next fall.


Early Decision


o Early decision is binding. If you are accepted, you commit to attend that college and must withdraw any applications that you may have submitted for regular decision consideration at other colleges. Some colleges have Single Choice Early Action which prohibits you from applying to any other college early action or early decision.

o Early decisions deadlines are usually in November, with admissions notification in December.

o Admissions decisions: Your student can be accepted, rejected or deferred.

* If accepted, congratulations! Your student must accept this early decision college admissions offer. Formal acceptance of the admissions offer must be made within a few days of notification. Once this is made, it is expected that you withdraw any other admissions applications pending with other colleges.

* If rejected, your student may not apply again to that college in the current admissions year. But that’s okay! While your student might be disappointed, there remain so many other options for your student to focus on during the remainder of the admissions cycle.

* If deferred, your student will be reconsidered for admission during the regular admissions cycle, and will be notified of that decision by April 1. In the meantime, your student is free to apply to other schools.

o Biggest benefit: This is a great option for students who know what college they want to attend. If your student is a strong candidate for admission to their first-choice college and can manage any shortcoming in their financial-aid award package (since that information will not be available when the admission decision is released in December), this may be the best strategic admissions option for your student to enhance their chances of getting into their first-choice college if they are willing to commit to the school early – in December or January.

o Biggest drawback: This may not be an ideal option for your student if attendance is driven by knowledge of the financial aid award package. Your student may receive their admissions decision before they know what their nly drawback is that you may be accepting the offer before receiving information on any financial award package.


Early Action


o Early action is non-binding. If your student is accepted, you are not required to accept the offer of admissions.

o Your student can usually apply Early Action to more than one college.

o Like Early Decision, Early Action deadlines are usually in November, with admissions notifications in December or January.

o Admissions decisions: Your student can be accepted, rejected or deferred.

* If accepted, congratulations! But your student is not required to attend and usually has until the spring (May 1) to inform the college whether they accept the offer of admission.

* If rejected, your student may not apply again to this college during this admissions cycle, but as with Early Decision, they can take the remaining admissions cycle to focus on other college options.

* If deferred, your student will be reconsidered for admission during the regular admissions cycle, and be notified of that decision by April 1.

o Biggest benefit: This is a great option for your student if they do not want to commit to a college so early in the admissions process. Since your student does not need to make a decision on the admissions offer until spring, they will also, by that time, have information on any financial aid award from the college and can weigh all admissions decisions with that important information.

o Biggest drawback: There really is no significant drawback to Early Action, and if there is any it is the pressure your student will have in readying their application submission early in the admission cycle!


Good luck! And look out for our next blog on strategic considerations for applying Early Decision and Early Action! We’re here to help!

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