Early Admissions and More

When applying to college, there are many admissions options to select from. These admission policies can help maximize your potential for acceptance, so it’s important to understand their distinctions. Over 500 colleges and universities offer Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED) options, with some offering both (1). These options sound similar, but share a very important difference.


Here is Everything You Need To Know

Early Action plans are non-binding. Students receive an early response to their application, but don’t have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1 (2). In addition to hearing from colleges more quickly, applying EA typically includes fewer application restrictions (1).

Early Decision applications, on the other hand, are binding. Students accepted as ED applicants must attend the college they applied to. This option is most suited for students who are completely certain of which school they want to attend. Applying with ED shows the school you are committed, which can boost chances of acceptance. It’s important to be aware of the school’s tuition costs before applying. If a student gets admitted and is offered what the university deems as “adequate financial aid”, that student must attend (1). They must also withdraw all of their other college applications and place a non-refundable deposit on their school before May 1 (2).


When Applying to Private Schools

It is important to understand Restrictive Early Action (REA). Also know as, Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA), students choosing this option are committing to apply early to a single selected private school. Applying with this distinction lets colleges know that their school is your top choice since REA takes away your opportunity to apply with Early Decision to other schools.

Unlike ED, however, REA acceptances are non-binding. If a student applies with REA, they may still be apply to other colleges. For most students, this option does not take away their ability to apply with Early Action to other colleges (1).


Rolling Admission

Unlike EA, ED, and REA, Rolling Admission isn’t an option that you can choose. Certain colleges use Rolling Admissions as the primary way they run their admissions process (3). Under Rolling Admissions, schools review applications as they are submitted, and continue to admit students until all of their first-year spots are filled (1). For prepared students, this option can be highly advantageous as this is a first-come-first-served style of applying. When there are more spaces to fill at a university, the selection process can be less scrupulous, so being aware of application deadlines for these schools is crucial. Other advantages of Rolling Admissions are quick turnaround times. Students can sometimes hear from their colleges in as little as 4-6 weeks, which can be a huge stress reliever and help you narrow down your choices. Also, these admissions are non-binding, and students have until the school’s deadline to decide whether they will attend (3).


Regular Decision

Regular Decision (RD) is the final admissions option to be familiar with. Most students will apply through Regular Decision, as this is a non-binding form of admissions. Students are free to apply to as many schools as they would like when applying with RD. Application deadlines vary between schools, so it’s important to look up individual deadlines (1).



1. https://internationalcollegecounselors.com/an-expert-guide-to-early-decision-early-action%20-rolling-and-other-admission-options
2. https://counselors.collegeboard.org/college-application/early-decision-action
3. https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/rolling-admission