The Pros and Cons of Applying Early Action and Early Decision to College


Melina Asteriadis

Ashley Loke 18′ works hard in the library to finish off her college applications.

Nobody likes to play “the waiting game”— especially with college admissions. The college application process is complex and anxiety-inducing  due to the very lengthy and unnecessarily long waiting period that follows the application process. Applying early is not a relatively new idea in the college process, but it is definitely one that is acknowledged by seniors more today than in the past because of the appeal in receiving an earlier result. But just how beneficial is it to apply early action or early decision?

For obvious reasons, applying early action or early decision plays a big part in improving one’s peace of mind. When you applying early, you are sure to receive a decision from your prospective college(s) by mid to late December, rather than waiting three to four extra months. Those who hope to make their senior year the best it can be prefer to apply early to reduce stress by cutting down the waiting time for a decision.

“It felt so nice to have already applied to three schools in November! I’m a lot less stressed out, and I’m glad I won’t have to wait till March to get some results,” said Karen Yeung ’18.

The real difference between early action and early decision is the intimidating binding agreement of the latter. Although it is not something to be lightly considered, a binding agreement to a college can mean a stress-free senior year. “It felt so nice to have already applied to three schools in November! I’m a lot less stressed out, and I’m glad I won’t have to wait till March to get some results,” said Karen Yeung ’18.

Statistically, applying early decision does have its perks. According to Money magazine, At Swarthmore College, 35% of early decision applicants were admitted, compared to 10.7% of regular decision applicants.” This certainly makes sense since colleges tend to admit early decision student since they know they will enroll, and it is no surprise that your chances of getting in through regular decision are slimmer.  

Many students and their families pin their chances based on online statistics that are, more often than not, very misleading. Despite the fact that the applicant pool for early action and early decision is smaller than for regular decision, over the years, the applicant pool for early applications has become more competitive. As shown by the Daily News, All eight Ivy League member schools saw an increase in the number of students applying to an early program, and five colleges — Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania — received a record-breaking number of applications.”

Between early action and early decision, applying early decision is actually more beneficial to an applicant’s chances of getting accepted. The only real caveat is the binding obligation, although , students can seek to be released from the agreement if they face financial hardship and have not been offered sufficient financial aid. Applying early action, although allowing you to be compared to a smaller applicant pool in the eyes of colleges, does not really advance your chances to getting into a certain school. Nevertheless, getting your results early, whether through early action or early decision, is never a bad thing.

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