Applying early action means just as it sounds: you apply early and you will hear back from the school early. Early action is not binding. If you get accepted early action, you are not contractually obligated to go to that school. You can apply to more than one school early action, and you don’t have to give an answer early. You have until the regular acceptance deadline to decide. We think, however, that the early bird has the best opportunity to get the worm. So, we encourage our students to apply early in the process. We have them start submitting their college applications in the middle to the end of August and well before the typical November 1st early action and early decision deadlines. College applications are date and time stamped so admissions officers know when you submitted your application, and submitting early can show interest and demonstrate diligence.
Then there is regular decision. A regular decision deadline can be as early as November 1st, or even some October 15. Schools with regular decision can also have a priority deadline, such as University of Maryland and Penn State. This priority deadline means that if you apply by the priority deadline you will get priority. If you apply afterwards, who knows about your admission decision. For the most part for schools that offer early action and/or early decision, regular decision typically starts at the beginning of January and sometimes can go to the middle of January. If at all possible, you don’t want to wait until the deadline to apply. We always tell our students to not pay attention much to the deadline, but rather submit your applications as soon as you possibly can. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the deadlines but that you should be proactive because there’s a finite number of students that the school is going to accept. If you wait until the deadline, they may have already accepted 75% of the students, which reduces your chances of acceptance.
With rolling admissions, when you submit your application to the school, which can be as early as the beginning of August, they will start to review it and within a few weeks you’ll receive a response. University of Pittsburgh is one school that uses rolling admissions.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of what early decision means and how this type of application compares to early action, regular admission and rolling admissions.
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