Early Decision vs Early Action: Which Option Is Best For You?

Applying to college requires making many decisions – which college to attend, which program to take, and when to apply. While admissions committees of different colleges and universities do their best to make college admissions process as simple as possible, applicants are still left with several important decisions to make.

One decision that all prospective college students have to ma ke is whether or not they should apply early decision or early action. As there are advantages and disadvantages to both decisions, here is the breakdown of each so that you can decide what works best for you:

Early Decision vs Early Action

Early decision plans are binding, which means that if you get accepted, you must attend the college; otherwise, you will lose a sizable enrolment deposit. Additionally, you must withdraw applications from all other colleges to which you applied. Basically, students accepted under early decision program must make a commitment even before they know what the financial aid package covers. If you really are positive about what college you want to attend, this might be the right choice for you.

On the other hand, early action plans are non-binding. Students will receive an early response to their college application. In fact, they can wait until the regular deadline to decide whether or not  they will attend.

How do you know what’s right for you?

Early Decision Applicants

  • Should apply early to first-choice college.
  • Should apply to only one college with early decision.
  • Will receive admission by December.
  • Will have to agree to attend the college if accepted.
  • Will be offered a financial aid package that deemed sufficient by the family.
  • Will have to withdraw all other applications of accepted.
  • Should send a non-refundable deposit before May 1.
  • Might have an increased chance of getting in because the school knows the applicant really want to go there.

Early Action Applicants

  • Should apply early.
  • Can apply to other colleges under regular admission plans.
  • Will receive admission by January or February.
  • Shall consider the acceptance offer, but do not have to commit right away.
  • Should provide a decision to the college no later than May 1, the official response date.

If you are still confused, our college admissions experts are happy to help you figure out which option is best for you.

About the Author


Yosepha Greenfield grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science. While at Yale, she was the Captain of the Women’s Basketball team and the starting point guard. Under her leadership, the team advanced to the NIT tournament for the first time in program history.

Throughout her academic, athletic, and professional career, Yosepha has dedicated herself to helping people become the best version of themselves. She has mentored several young female athletes, promoted the importance of fitness through children’s exercise videos and fitness startups, and now works to help as many students as possible achieve their admissions goals.

Yosepha is also a six-time National Champion in Tae Kwon Do.