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What is Early Action?

Learn the Benefits of Applying to College Early

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Admission Type: Early Action | Single-Choice Early Action | Early Decision | Rolling Admission | Open Admissions

Early action, like early decision, is an accelerated college application process in which students typically must complete their applications in November. In most cases, students will then receive a decision from the college before the new year.

In general, early action is a much more attractive option than early decision. Some reasons to consider early action include:

  • At many colleges, the acceptance rates are higher for early action than for regular admission.
  • Students who are not accepted early are still considered for admission with the regular admission pool.
  • Early action is not binding -- students are free to apply to other colleges.
  • Students can apply early to other colleges.
  • Although students receive early notification of an acceptance, they do not need to make a decision until the usual May 1 deadline. This allows time to figure out financial aid.
  • If accepted early at a college, the spring of a student's senior year will be far less stressful.
  • Even if accepted early, a student can choose to go to a different college with no penalty.
Clearly, early action has more benefits for the student than for the college. So not surprisingly, many more colleges offer early decision than early action.

A few colleges offer a special type of early action called single-choice early action. Single choice has the benefits outlined above except that students are not allowed to apply to other colleges early. You are not bound in any way through single choice early action. The college, however, has the benefit that their early applicants have expressed a clear preference for their school. This makes it easier for the college to predict its application yield.

The chart below presents the deadlines for a small sampling of colleges that offer early action.

Sample Early Action Dates
College Application Deadline Receive a Decision by...
Boston College November 1 December 25
Case Western Reserve November 1 December 15
Elon University November 10 December 20
Notre Dame Novemer 1 Before Christmas
Stanford University November 1 December 15
University of Georgia October 15 December 15
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