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What's the difference between Early Action and Early Decision?

If you are getting ready to apply to colleges this fall, you may be confused about the various types of applications and their deadlines. You can find answers to your questions below.

Some of the colleges I’m applying to are asking if I want to apply “Early Action” or “Early Decision.” What’s the difference?

Early Action (EA) is an application process in which you apply and receive a decision much earlier than the Regular Decision (RD) notification date. Unlike Early Decision (ED), however, Early Action is nonbinding. In other words, if you are accepted by a college under the Early Action plan, you have no obligation to enroll and will have until May 1 to consider the offer and confirm your enrollment.

Early Decision (ED) is an application process in which you commit to enrolling in a certain college if you are admitted. You might hear people refer to Early Decision as a "binding" plan. This just means that you can apply to other colleges, but only one can be marked as your “Early Decision” college. If you are admitted to your Early Decision college, you must withdraw your applications from all other colleges.

Who should apply for ED or EA?   A student who:

  • Has done extensive college research
  • Is sure of first-choice college
  • Has found a college that matches his/her academic, social and geographical criteria.
  • Meets the college admissions requirements - SAT scores, GPA and class rank.

Regular Decision is an application process in which you apply by a specified date and receive an admission decision in a clearly stated period of time. If you are accepted by a college under this plan, you will have until May 1 to consider the offer and confirm enrollment.

What are Priority Deadlines?

Priority deadlines are earlier than regular deadlines in order to ensure that colleges have ample time to review and accept students who are highly interested in their schools. You have a higher chance of getting accepted by applying before the priority deadline, but admission is not guaranteed. At many colleges, the priority deadline is also associated with receiving institutional scholarships and awards. Missing the priority deadline could result in receiving a smaller financial aid award package.

What’s the deal with the top 10-percent admission rule?

Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school graduation class earn automatic admission into any public university in Texas, excluding University of Texas at Austin, which has a top 6 percent requirement for summer/fall 2020 and spring 2021. Admission to a public university, however, does not guarantee admission to your selected major.