Should you apply Early Action?

Applying For Early Action

Early Action, or EA, is offered by many public universities and a few private universities in the US, whose deadline is typically in November.

It is often thought that Early Action (EA) is a ‘non-binding’ application to colleges and universities in the US. Typically, this means that you can apply to other universities simultaneously – something that the Early Decision or ED disallows you from doing.

However, not all EAs are non-binding. To know whether the EA offered by a particular college is, in fact, binding or not, the words you need to watch out for are – ‘Restrictive’ and ‘Non-Restrictive.’  

Colleges such as the University of Notre Dame, Harvard University, Yale University, and Georgetown University, to list a few, offer Restrictive Early Action or REA. This means that applying early to these universities RESTRICTS you from applying to any other Private university for Early Action or Early Decision. On a positive note, most REA universities will allow you to apply Early Action to Public Universities.

While the general guidelines around whether to apply for an Early Decision are clear, most students are still determining whether they should apply for Early Action at specific universities.

So, the big question: Should you apply for Early Action in today’s ever-competitive college applications world?

Well, there is more to this than a simple YES or NO.

Let’s first try to understand: What’s the advantage of applying EA to universities

1.     Your application gets reviewed in a smaller applicant pool.

Why is the applicant pool smaller? Because less number of students can put their applications together in that time.

2.     Getting accepted into your EA will eliminate some of the uncertainty.

This means you will have a backup university that you will still be happy to attend if none of the others work out. Furthermore, winning an EA school can undoubtedly mean that you can aim for higher-level colleges, as you need to only revert to your decision in May of next year, the same time as the places you would have won in the regular round.

3.     More Financial Aid, potentially.

Colleges naturally have more funds to assess and decide whom to give it to in the early round. However, if they love your application, they will offer more aid so that you are tempted to take up their offer.

Now let’s answer your big question: Under what circumstances should you apply Early Action?

1.     You are satisfied with your grades

You should apply early if your current grades reflect your full potential. However, if you aren’t confident of this fact, then waiting until the regular round as you gear up for the term-end exams in Grade 12 could benefit you by turning around your GPA.

2.     You have completed all of your major Extracurricular Activities

Colleges would ideally like you to showcase some impressive extracurricular activities that are complete (such as the book or research paper you worked on). This shows dedication and the fact that you’re able to plan ahead of time, which colleges appreciate.

3.     You have prepared yourself for College Interviews

Most private universities offering EAs would open their slots for interviews or invite students to one after submitting their early-round applications. Doing an interview will help emphasize that you are serious about applying to the university you’re interviewing for. In addition, this will help provide more weight to your EA application, i.e., even though you’re not committing to them fully, they will know you are deeply interested in them.  

4.     Your Recommendation Letters are ready for submission

As you know, most colleges need two teacher recommendations and one counselor recommendation. In addition, some of them allow you to submit an additional LOR by either a mentor, peer, or parent. However, all of these will need to be ready for upload by your recommenders if you decide to apply early.

Fewer colleges are generous with their EA offers as more colleges want to see students committing to them via ED (look up ‘yield protection’ to learn more about what I mean). And colleges also want to see who shows up for the Regular Round!

So, does EA give any real advantage over RD? Like I said before, it depends.

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan ahead and make the best choices for you. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions and prepare you for college. Start today!

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