By: Brittany Clausman
University of Michigan 2015, Bachelor of Arts in Communications

It’s time once again to examine your options for applying early to the colleges on your list. As was previously discussed, there are two main options for applying early. Other than Early Decision, you also have the choice to apply through the Early Action (EA) method. What exactly does Early Action entail, and why should you or shouldn’t you apply this way? In an effort to keep you informed and fully prepared for the admissions process, here’s a bit of information and a few quick tips on Early Action from us at Parros College Planning.

Early Action is fairly similar to Early Decision in many ways. You need to apply early (usually by November 1st of your senior year in high school). Applying this way shows demonstrated interest and increases your chances of acceptance, and you will hear back from your colleges much earlier. EA—and its variants—differs the most from ED due to the fact that it is non-binding; if you are accepted, you are not obligated to attend.

Sounds like a great option, of course, but let’s consider some of the cons to EA before you dive-in head first:

  • Applying Early Action is, just as the name implies, applying very early in the admissions process. If you have not perfected your application, had a few rough semesters, or want to beef-up your application with more extracurricular work, you might want to hold off. Remember: If you apply EA and are denied, you can’t always apply to the same university again.
  • Much like ED, if you apply EA and are deferred, the benefits of applying early are lost. What’s more, your application will not only be judged against regular admission applicants, but it will typically be looked at much later due to the fact that the admissions person has already read your application, so it is less important.
  • The popularity of Early Action is fading for many universities. Typically, Early Action in its purest form is an option available only at smaller liberal arts colleges and universities. Recently, larger state colleges and Ivy League schools have been utilizing slightly altered versions of Early Action. For instance, it’s referred to as Restrictive Early Action at Notre Dame and Single Choice Early Action at Princeton. These types of Early Action are typically more similar to Early Decision in that you can only apply to one school in this way, but again, it’s non-binding.
  • Even though applying early will almost always increase your chance of acceptance, submitting an application in a binding way like ED might increase your demonstrated interest more than EA. If you don’t have enough on your application to ensure your acceptance, you lose some of the benefits when you are applying early without a binding application.

There are of course, plenty of benefits for choosing the Early Action method as well. Here’s a few you might want to consider:

  • EA, much like ED, allows you to hear back from your colleges much earlier than regular or rolling admissions. With Early Action, you are also allowed to wait until spring to decide if you want to accept and eventually be enrolled in that college. This leeway gives you valuable time to compare various financial aid packages offered to you, consider your options, and make a more educated final decision on the matter.
  • Applying early allows admissions to look at your application with a keener eye. Admissions officials, who will likely read thousands of applications and essays over the next few months, will probably be sharper and less exhausted while reading your applications if you apply early. Also, it always looks better to prospective colleges when you apply sooner rather than later.
  • If you’re stressed that you might miss a deadline, fear not. There are many colleges out there that now offer two Early Action dates. Keep an eye out for this, as some of the colleges you apply to might being doing this.
  • If you think your senior year might be a busy one, applying Early Action gives a bit of relief. Getting you college applications in promptly allows you the rest of your year to enjoy your final stage of high school.

Of course, no decision is without a handful of unique caveats, and you may still be unsure if Early Action is the right choice for you. Parros College Planning knows what’s at stake for you, and we know exactly what route is best given your personal situation. We offer consultations and assistance as part of our Promise Package, working hand-in-hand with you from whatever stage you may be at in your college planning. Your success is our success, and we will work with you to get you to your ultimate goal: the best college for you.