Applying to College: Early Action (EA)

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If after reading all the stipulations for Early Decision (ED) applicants, your student may want to consider Early Action (EA). Schools generally only offer Early Decision or Early Action—not both.

The most common EA deadline is November 1; however, some colleges have EA deadlines in October. Decisions on EA applications are usually posted in mid-December. Students can apply to multiple colleges/universities that offer Early Action. EA deadlines are non-binding, meaning that if you are admitted to an institution Early Action, you are not obligated to enroll.

Early Action (EA)

Colleges that offer this option promise a quick response if you submit a completed application by their early deadline. Students admitted EA don’t have to promise to attend the college; they just want to hear back sooner than usual. Students can apply as EA candidates to several colleges at the same time, as long as they are submitting a quality application that didn’t get thrown together at the last minute.

Restricted Early Action (REA)

Sometimes known as Early Action Single Choice, REA works much like Early Action, but the student is limited in the number of other colleges where they can submit early applications — and that number is often zero. Colleges do this for a number of reasons, but they most often want the student to show a special commitment to their college without having to promise to go there. This can reduce the number of students who apply early who aren’t really thinking about why the college is right for them , and still reward the students who feel a special bond to the school.

Priority Deadline

Priority is often misinterpreted as just another name for Early Action. While Priority deadlines can be similar in timing to other early deadlines, they are not the same. Institutions that utilize Priority give the most consideration to applications received by this deadline. It is in a student’s best interest to apply by a Priority deadline when offered.

Why apply EA?

If your student is ready and has their college choice or choices locked in, applying Early Action would be a good choice if you need financial aid. Since none of these acceptances are binding, your student will have time to compare financial aid offers before the May 1 decision deadline. 

Be sure to double check with the college and verify the early application deadline. In addition, make sure your student submits a strong application and not just one thrown together to make the deadline.

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