With the college application season now in high gear, many prospective college students are wondering whether or not they should apply under early action or early decision programs. It's important to know that early action and early decision are extremely different.
Early action is the far more attractive option. Under early action, students can still apply to other colleges early, and they can wait until the spring deadline to decide whether or not to attend. Students have the potential advantage of wrapping up their college search early, yet they don't have to make any binding decisions early on.
Early decision, on the other hand, is binding. If accepted, a student must attend or else lose a sizable enrollment deposit. A student accepted under early decision must withdraw all other college applications. Typically a student must make a commitment before he or she knows what the financial aid package will look like.
Acceptance rates are generally higher for early action and early decision applicants, but students who apply under early decision need to be 100% sure that the college is truly their first choice.