Should I apply for Early Action or Regular Decision?
- Written by UnivAdmitHelp
- Category: Admission Application
- Published on 17 Sep 2020
When is the best time to plant a tree?
- Twenty years ago.
When is the next best time?
This Chinese Proverb has long emulated the thought process suited to taking action. It’s September, and the Early Action deadlines about a month away. Are you ready?
In a hurry:
It is of course possible to focus extremely well and breeze through the admission process. If you have worked consistently throughout the year on developing your profile, if you know the exact program you want to apply to, if funding is not a problem for you, then this time crunch should not trouble you. Some concentration and good support will ensure that you join the program you have dreamt of!
As a student, this is a life-altering decision. For some students, it might take some more time and preparation to become eligible and admission-ready. Unfortunately, a lot of students have faced the negative repercussions of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Even in that case, it’s never too late. You can begin now, and with the right guidance and effort, you will surely enter the college of your dreams! If you feel that you might have missed the first deadline, the deadline for Early Action, even if you apply with Regular Decision, that should not reduce your chances for admission.
A primer on Early Action vs. Early Decision vs. Regular Decision:
Early action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) are types of early admission (usually 1st November), in contrast with regular decision (RD)(usually 1st January). Both early action and early decision involve earlier deadlines and also provide earlier notification of admissions decisions.
- Early action (EA) - is a nonbinding admission process for students to apply to college earlier than the regular deadline, usually in November. Students receive admissions notifications in December, and if accepted, are not required to commit.
- Early decision (ED) - is a binding admissions process for students to apply to only one college earlier than the regular deadline. Students receive admissions notifications in December, and if accepted, are absolutely required to commit.
- Restrictive early action (REA) or Single-choice early action - is non-binding. Students are not committed to enroll but may not apply to other EA schools.
- Acceptance rates could be higher due to
- self selection
- academic strength
- demonstrated interest.
But that’s not always the case. The Acceptance Rate at MIT for the Class of 2024 is 7.3% for all applicants, and a marginally higher 8.2% for Early Action. Other selective colleges too follow the same trend.
- Disadvantages to Early Decision:
- Binding commitment to enroll in some cases
- Cannot compare financial aid especially for low income students
- Regular decision - The vast majority of students apply for regular decision, usually in January, and are notified in late March or early April. Students have no obligation to commit if accepted.
- Rolling Admissions - Some schools have rolling admissions, which means that applications are evaluated and decided on as they are received.
- Early Decision could be avoided because it could limit your options.
- Early Action and Early Decision are the right choice for a student who has a strong academic performance and/or profile.
- It might be better to apply Early Action to a Target school, as opposed to a Reach school. (Read here: how to make a great College List Reach, Target, Safe). You are more likely to get in early at a Match school. You can then save on application fees because you will not apply to many schools.
Again, you might ask, when is the right time to apply for admission? Am I too late?
And again, the answer is that you should apply when YOU are ready. Irrespective of Early or Regular Decisions, if your profile is not strong enough in Early Action, you might run a risk of forfeiting your chance.
- It’s always better to check if your application needs additional inputs.
- You might need to focus more on your essays.
- Or you might not have been able to take the SATs because of the pandemic and are planning to do it now.
These factors mean that you would be ready in some time, and that your application is not yet entirely ready. It is advisable in such cases to apply Regular Decision.