Can I Apply Early Decision and Early Action?

Generally, you can apply early decision to one school and early action to other schools; however, there are some caveats. Remember, early decision is binding, it is contractual. You can only apply early decision to one school because if you are accepted to that school, you have contracted to attend that school upon admission. Early action is not binding, it simply allows you to potentially receive an early response to your application. You do not have to make a decision on an early application admission until the normal reply date. Usually, you can apply early action to as many schools as you like, along with your single early decision application, but there are some schools that have something called restrictive early action which can impact the number of your early action applications, as well as whether you can even apply to another school early action. We go into this in more detail below.

What is Restrictive Early Action?

Restrictive early action is also referred to as single-choice early action. In essence, restrictive early action indicates to the college that they are your first choice. If you wish to apply restrictive early action, you need to sign an agreement with the school that you will file only one early action application at a private school – their school. You are not contractually bound to attend the school upon admission as you would be when applying early decision, but you are prevented from applying early action to other private schools. You can, however, apply early action to public institutions (Please check the specific rules for each school that you will be applying to Restrive Early Action – The rules can vary).

Some school’s restrictive early action requirements may even prevent you from applying to another school early decision. Princeton is one such school. It does not have early decision, but it does have restrictive early action that prevents you from applying early decision or early action at other private institutions with some exceptions for international institutions and colleges with rolling admissions.

The Applying Early Action and Early Decision Takeaway

For the most part, you can apply to a single school early decision and other schools early action, but there are some caveats. Each school has its own set of rules regarding applications, so it is important to know and fully understand the application requirements of each school to which you want to apply.

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