About Early Decision & Early Action

Applying ‘Early Decision’ – and to a lesser extent ‘Early Action’ – is an indication to a college that it is your No. 1 choice. That is, if you were accepted to every one of the schools to which you applied, you would attend that one. In applying Early Decision, you are also signing an agreement that binds you to that college should you be admitted. While there can be an advantage in applying early at some institutions, you should consider how much you really want to go to that college before making the big leap.


  • Does the school match the criteria I have set for myself? Does it offer the major I want?
  • Is it in a place I can envision myself living for four years?
  • Is financial aid going to play a big role in where I go to college? (If so, please discuss this decision thoroughly with your college counselor )
  • What do my parents think?
  • Have I taken all the standardized tests required for admission? (Many schools require the SATII subject tests; make sure you take those by the November test date and rush the scores )
  • Are my grades and standardized-test scores compatible with those of students usually accepted at the school? (If you are a postgraduate, you should talk to your college counselor before applying anywhere early.)
  • Have I looked around enough to know what else is out there?
  • Am I making an informed decision, considering all my options? 

For certain students, the option of sending some kind of early application is advisable; however, you should know what the differences are before getting started.

Early Decision (E.D.) is a binding agreement between you and the college, by which you agree that you will attend the college should you be accepted. At many schools, E.D. applications are due by November 1st or 15th, but the dates and E.D. plans do vary, so read the applications closely. Normally, decisions are mailed before the Christmas holiday. If accepted under an Early Decision plan, you must withdraw your applications at all other colleges. 

Early Action (E.A) roughly follows the same timetable as Early Decision, but it is not a binding agreement. If accepted to a college under an Early Action policy, you may still attend another college if you choose to. You have until May 1st to make your decision.  

Rolling Admission is a process used mainly by large state universities, although not exclusively. Under a Rolling Admissions policy, applications are read on a continuing basis rather than all at once after a certain deadline. If you apply to a school with a rolling admission policy, we recommend getting that application in as early in the fall as you can.