Early Decision vs. Early Action

Most early admission programs are divided into two categories: Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA). Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) programs are a particular kind of early action program.

ED and EA programs both involve an earlier application deadline than the normal admissions process does, and (as their names imply) earlier notification of admissions decisions. Accepted applicants enjoy several benefits. A high school student who already knows that he/she has been accepted to his/her top choice college can take chances he/she might not otherwise. The student might take a challenging college-level course that he/she would pass on if they were worried that their spring grades might affect the college applications. Another advantage, of course, is that the student and his/her family have more time to plan for the student’s move to college, and to arrange financial aid and housing.

However, the most attractive aspect of early admission programs is that colleges and universities tend to admit a significantly higher percentage into the early applicant pool than they do to the normal applicant pool – in other words, there is the possibility that the chances of being accepted as an early admissions candidate are better than they would be as a regular applicant. The most selective colleges currently admit 25% to 50% of their total students from the early admissions pool. In recent years, as many as 40% of freshmen at Ivy League schools had been early admissions applicants.