The Three Main Types of Early Admission Plans
Most colleges impose a January due date for regular decision applications. If you’ve done your research and found a college that is a perfect match, you can also take the early admission route, which provides you with an earlier answer from your top choice.
Of the three primary early admissions options, the first is early decision. If you apply are accepted early decision, you’re bound to attend that college or university and must withdraw pending applications from other schools.
Typically, early decision applications are due in November and you’ll receive an answer from the school by mid- to late-December. As early decision applicant pools are comprised solely of students who are fully committed to attending, many schools have slightly higher acceptance rates for students who apply early decision.
If you're admitted early decision, you’ll be exempt from having to complete any other applications. Be cautious — if you choose early decision, you’ll be unable to compare financial aid or scholarship packages that other schools could offer. Furthermore, getting out of early decision contracts is difficult. Some schools require you to pay a full year of tuition if you back out of your spot.
Most early action applications are due in November and you’ll receive a response in December or January. Unlike early decision, if you are accepted early admission, you can choose to wait until May 1 to accept.
Under early action, you can keep your options open by applying to other schools.
Some schools also offer single-choice early action, which means that you can apply to one school early. Once you’ve received an answer, you only can apply to other colleges through regular decision.
Many large state schools have rolling admission, which operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each application is evaluated as it comes in. You could receive a response as soon as six weeks after submitting your materials. If one of your top schools admits on a rolling basis, apply early to increase your chance of admission.