Some high school seniors have their hopes set on admission to one specific college and that’s it. They know right away that, if accepted, they will attend their first choice school. But, they also don't want to be left in the dust should they not get into their top choice. Fortunately, there is a way to find out if you can get into your intended college and still give yourself time to consider other options (if you don't get accepted).
Many colleges offer a convenient way of applying known as early action. This is where you can apply to your first choice school earlier than usual and receive an earlier notification on your decision. Early action has its pros and cons, so you should carefully analyze if it is an application process that would benefit you.
What is Early Action?
Not to be confused with early decision, early action is a program offered by some colleges and universities where you can apply to their school before the normal deadline. You will also receive a decision on your application earlier than normal as well. The average deadline for applying for early action is November, but can vary from school to school. The admissions office will let you know of their decision around December.
Benefits of Applying Early Action
There are good things about applying early action that make the program beneficial for a lot of students.
- Non-Binding: You can apply early action, but you will not be bound to attending the school if you are accepted. This means you can field letters of acceptance from other schools before making your decision.
- You can decide early. Some students really will attend their first choice school if they are accepted. By using early action, they can apply and begin the admission process earlier, instead of waiting until later in their senior year for the traditional deadline.
- Non-restrictive: You can apply to more than one college or university under the early action program. This will allow you to not only apply to your first choice school, but any other schools you may want to attend.
Disadvantages of Applying Early Action
As there are pros, there are also cons to applying early action. Keep these in mind before applying early action to the school of your choice.
- Single-Choice Early Action: This is a new version of the early action program that is being used by some schools. Single-Choice Early Action is NOT binding, however under this program you can't apply to other schools using their early programs. You can, however, apply for regular admission to other schools.
- Competitive: Students who rank high in their high school class usually utilize early action for admission. These students are usually highly intelligent and gifted; therefore admission during early action periods is very competitive.
Early action should be used by students are who are confident in their grades and testing scores. They should also be certain that the school(s) they apply to early are the schools they will most likely attend. If you are unsure of the school you want to attend or would like to throw your application out to a variety of schools, you should stick with the regular admission process.