Ever wondered what Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) for the US Universities Commonapps Applications are about?

Today, we explore the different options for your US university applications and evaluate them. Read more at Quintessential Consultancy, a leading expert in UK and US university admissions.

What is Early Decision?

An applicant can only submit an Early Decision application for only one University college by 1st November. If the applicant is accepted by the university, the applicant must attend the university*. Early Decision (ED) is termed as such because it is an application that allows an applicant to get in early by end December when the University gives notice of acceptance . In comparison, a University would only inform a student under the Regular Decision (RD) application, much later, around February to April (correspondingly, the RD application deadline is usually later, around 1st January).

Applicants are not allowed to apply ED for more than 1 university. The high school and the applicant will be blackmarked if so.

*If you do not attend the university after receiving your ED offer, the university has the right to legally pursue the matter. This rarely happens though as prestigious universities often have no lack of candidates and it is too much time to waste on a candidate that does not want them. That being said, it is bad for your reputation as other schools may then hesitate to take you.

What Is Early Action?

Early Action (EA) is a non binding application to a university. The submission deadline is 1st November. An applicant can submit multiple Early Actions applications. If accepted by the university, you can choose whether to accept or reject up until the regular decision reply date of 1st May. This means that an EA is not binding, as compared to the ED.

Thus, an EA may be preferable to an ED, as it gives students the flexibility to choose and is non-binding. This is the only main advantage/ pros of an EA. However, not all schools offer EA. Some will only offer ED.

ED results will be released by end December usually. In comparison, the EA results will only be released by end Dec to Feb.

Applicants should take note that the schools usually only offer admissions to the most deserving ED/EA applicants based on academic grades and portfolio. I.e: ED/EA does not offer any easier entry advantag for average students.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of ED and EAs?

What are the Pros of ED and EAs? The main advantage is that the applicant can get an earlier notice of acceptance, if he/she is successful. This takes away the anxiety of waiting and allows for more time for the applicant to plan a move to the university.

Take note that successful applicants will still need their final grades in November/May to be good as the offers are often conditional. I.e: Do not let the ED/EA cloud your preparations for your final exams.

However, there are a few disadvantages for ED and EAs:

1. Choice of Financial Aid

The applicant may not be able to contest the financial assistance package given in the ED/EA offer, if any. This may be crucial for students who require financial assistance.

Students who require financial aid should state clearly in their ED/EA applications. In addition, if you want to be able to negotiate for financial aid, then ED may not exactly be suitable.

2. For ED, There is no Choice to wait for Other Schools’ Acceptance Replies

For ED, the applicant will not be able to wait for other schools to reply. He/ehe will have to accept. This means that if you were counting on having choices and time to decide which school to choose, ED may not be suitable for you.

3. Required to Build Portfolio and Takes SATS Early

The applicant must take their SATs and complete their extra-curricular Portfolio latest by October as he/she will be using predicted grades and SATs for the ED/EA applications on 1st November. If you have not obtained a good SAT score (or need more time to prepare for your SATs) or have not completed your Portfolio projects by October; then ED/EA may not be suitable for you. This is because you will not be able to present your best academics and extra-curricular activities to the admission office if you are not ready for ED/EA application.

Concluding Remarks

QC generally recommends applicants to apply ED or EA if they have outstanding academics and portfolios. Most importantly, applicants must have done their research and find that their ED/EA school is the first and foremost choice to pursue their bachelors degree.

The level of conviction required, often means that students must be on top of their game for admissions- having done everything right- Academics, SATs, extracurricular activities for portfolios.

A second group of students we recommend to try for ED are those who are almost within reach of their ED schools in terms of grades and portfolio and they also have strong convictions about their choice school.

If the ED school is still a stretch in terms of grades and portfolio, QC recommends students to apply via the RD and instead focus on the final exams preparations.

In conclusion, do not be too vexed if you decided to give ED or EA a miss OR if you did not get your ED/EA as only about 10% of applicants are successful for the ED or EA.