For seniors gearing up for applications, a major question that has to be answered with some school's applications is whether to apply Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision. These options offer different, firm due dates and definite notification dates where the student finds out an answer from the school. To better be able to discuss this topic, let's first define what each is. To make this most accurate, I am providing you with the official definition from NACAC, the governing body of ethical practices as they pertain to the college admissions process.
Early Action (EA)- is the application process in which students apply to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date. Students who are admitted under Early Action are not obligated to accept the institution’s offer of admission or to submit a deposit prior to May 1. Under non-restrictive Early Action, a student may apply to other college.
Regular Decision (RD)- is the application process in which a student submits an application to an institution by a specified date and receives a decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time. A student may apply to other institutions without restriction.
The following options place restrictions on a student with regards to applying to or accepting an offer at another school. Careful consideration should be given to these options as they will tie a student's hands with applying to other schools, until a student is denied at that school.
Early Decision (ED)- is the application process in which students make a commitment to a first-choice institution where, if admitted, they definitely will enroll. While pursuing admission under an Early Decision plan, students may apply to other institutions, but may have only one Early Decision application pending at any time. Should a student who applies for financial aid not be offered an award that makes attendance possible, the student may decline the offer of admission and be released from the Early Decision commitment. The institution must notify the applicant of the decision within a reasonable and clearly stated period of time after the Early Decision deadline. Usually, a nonrefundable deposit must be made well in advance of May 1. The institution will respond to an application for financial aid at or near the time of an offer of admission. Institutions with Early Decision plans may restrict students from applying to other early plans. Institutions will clearly articulate their specific policies in their Early Decision agreement.
Restrictive Early Action (REA)- is the application process in which students make application to an institution of preference and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date. Institutions with Restrictive Early Action plans place restrictions on student applications to other early plans. Institutions will clearly articulate these restrictions in their Early Action policies and agreements with students. Students who are admitted under Restrictive Early Action are not obligated to accept the institution’s offer of admission or to submit a deposit prior to May 1.
Many colleges make things much simpler and take applications anytime up to a certain date in the year. Students get a quick answer (usually a couple weeks after submission). Those schools are known to be on Rolling Admissions.
Rolling Admission (RA)- is the application process in which an institution reviews applications as they are completed and renders admission decisions to students throughout the admission cycle. (No specific date to release. A student may apply to other institutions without restriction.
What are the considerations one should taking in choosing from the options that your college offers? Options that allow a student an early application/notification date provide a student with an early answer. They can get a jump on housing and registering for orientation in the summer, which is where a student will register for classes. The earlier a student registers for classes, the better are their options. In some cases with some schools, there is a perceived implication of devotion that comes with making the choice to do ED or REA. The student is essentially telling the school "you are my only one." This is an important thing for a student's reach-school because they want to avoid the loss of other qualified candidates while a spot is being held for the accepted student. These two options protect the school. Ultimately, a student has to strategize if applying EA, ED, or REA will increase their chances in getting in. With some schools, it can; with some, it makes no difference; with some, it can be harder to get in. This is a decision that a student can receive help from the admissions officer at the college that he or she is applying to. They will help a student in making a decision. Your counselor is also helpful with this decision. Every school is different
Another consideration in making the choice to apply ED, EA, REA is that the student will know early if they are in or not, usually with enough time to apply to another school. This can be very helpful to allow a student deal with bad news from a reach-school and still have a list of good schools to turn to if they are denied.
With EA, ED and REA application due dates right around the corner, if you have not made a decision about RD or one of these, you need to come down to guidance and let's talk about it!
From Indianapolis, signing off. So ready to be back home with you all!