Early Action (EA) is a college admissions policy that allows applicants to submit their applications earlier than the regular deadline, usually in November or December, and receive an admission decision earlier than the regular decision applicants. Early Action applicants are not obligated to attend the college if accepted, and they can still apply to other schools and wait until the regular decision deadline to make a final decision.
Early Action policies were first introduced in the 1970s by a few selective colleges to give students more time to make a decision and reduce the anxiety associated with the traditional spring admissions cycle. The original Early Action program was non-binding, meaning that students who were accepted could still apply to other colleges and wait until May 1 to make a final decision.
In the 1990s, some colleges began to adopt a more restrictive form of Early Action known as Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA) or Restrictive Early Action (REA), which limits the number of other colleges to which applicants can apply under an early plan. Under SCEA or REA, applicants may only apply early to one college, and they cannot apply early to any other college with an early application program. This policy ensures that students who are accepted to SCEA or REA colleges have committed to attending the school.
In recent years, Early Action has become an increasingly popular option among college applicants, and many colleges have adopted the policy as a way to attract and admit top students who may be more likely to choose a school that offers an early admission option.
One of the main advantages of Early Action is that it allows students to receive an admission decision earlier in the process, which can reduce stress and uncertainty. Students who are accepted under Early Action can also begin to plan and prepare for college earlier, which can be helpful in making a smooth transition to college life.
Early Action also provides an advantage to students who are highly qualified and are interested in attending a selective college. Since Early Action pools are smaller than regular decision pools, the admission rates for Early Action applicants are often higher than those for regular decision applicants.
However, there are also some disadvantages to Early Action. One potential disadvantage is that Early Action applicants may not have the opportunity to improve their academic record or test scores before submitting their applications. Early Action also requires students to make a decision about attending a college earlier in the process, which may not be ideal for some students who want to compare financial aid packages or visit other schools before making a final decision.
Early Action is a college admissions policy that allows students to submit their applications earlier and receive an admission decision earlier than the regular decision cycle. While there are advantages and disadvantages to Early Action, it can be a good option for students who are highly qualified and interested in attending a selective college. Students should carefully consider the policies of each college they are interested in before deciding whether to apply under Early Action or another admissions policy.