Early Applications - A Rundown
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
As summer winds down and students begin working on their college applications, many might be wondering about the various early round application options that schools offer. More specifically, what is the difference between Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), and Restrictive Early Action (REA)? Indeed, all of these different terms can get confusing. In this post, we’ll break down each of these early round application options.
What are the advantages of applying early?
In general, applying early can be a good idea for a few reasons—in addition to the fact that it’s generally relieving and encouraging to receive a college acceptance earlier on in the application cycle. First, many schools have higher acceptance rates for their early round than for their regular decision round. Let’s look at a few of the Ivy League universities, for example:
Furthermore, if you are accepted to your early school(s), you will be able to narrow down your regular decision application list to only the schools that you would consider attending over those that you’ve already been accepted to in the early round. This will save you time, energy, and money.
Now, let’s go over each of the early round application options in detail.
What it is: A binding agreement that you will attend the school if you are admitted. You may only apply to 1 ED school, but you may apply to other EA schools (more on that in the following sections).
Deadlines: ED deadlines are generally early-mid November, with applicants hearing back in mid-December. Some schools also offer Early Decision II (ED II); here, the same rules apply but the deadline is in early-mid January, with applicants hearing back in February.
Example schools: Schools that offer ED include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. Schools that offer both ED I and ED II include Boston University, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Pomona, Tufts, and the University of Chicago (which also offers Early Action).
What it is: A non-binding early application. That is, unlike with ED, you are not required to accept an offer of admission if you receive one. You may apply to as many EA schools as you’d like (in addition to 1 ED school).
Deadlines: EA deadlines are generally early-mid November, with applicants hearing back in mid-December.
Example schools: Schools that offer EA include Caltech, Georgetown, MIT, and the University of Michigan.
Restrictive Early Action (aka Single-Choice Early Action)
What it is: REA is also a non-binding early application. In other words, you are not required to accept an offer of admission if you receive one. However, with REA, you may not apply to any other private university in the early round, whether EA or ED. This is why REA is also referred to as Single-Choice Early Action.
Deadlines: REA deadlines are generally early-mid November, with applicants hearing back in mid-December.
Example schools: Schools that offer REA include Harvard, Stanford, the University of Notre Dame, and Yale.
So which option is best for you?
Even after students come to understand each of the various early round application options, they may still be left curious about which they should pursue. The answer to this question depends on the individual in question and should be based on a multitude of factors such as their unique strengths, interests, desired schools, budget, and more. Sky Admission’s college counselors work with each individual student to tailor a plan suited specifically to their goals and needs.
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