The Run Down on College Admissions

Early action, early decision, restrictive early action…what do they all mean? The college admissions process brings to light an entirely new string of words and acronyms most of us have never heard of. This can become confusing and frustrating if you don’t know the specifics of the different decision plans, or if you just don’t know which is right for you. For those of you still confused on the admissions process, here is a little run down on each plan of admission.


Early Action

Early action is non-binding, meaning that you can apply to as many universities as you want, and don’t you have to go to that school if you are accepted. Here’s what can happen when decisions are mailed out: you can get accepted (yay!), you can get deferred (fill out the regular admissions application and try again), or you can get flat out rejected.

  • The best part about early action: You get your decision much earlier than other schools. You should apply early action to the schools you want to go to the most, or the schools that you feel you have the best chance at getting into.
  • The not so great part: The application deadline is earlier than most.

Early Decision

Early decision is just like early action, except for one considerably important difference: if admitted to a school on early decision admission, you must go to that school and reject any other schools you’re admitted to.

  • The best part about early decision: If you are in love with a certain school that offers early decision and know you want to go there for sure, use that option, otherwise, you’ll have to apply regular decision.
  • The not so great part: Early Decision is binding, so you have to go to that school if you get accepted.

Restrictive Early Action

Restrictive early action is more or a less a combination of early action and early decision. If you apply to a school that uses restrictive early action, then that is the only school you can apply to early.

  • The best part about restrictive early action: Though this seems like regular decision, it is non-binding, so if you’re admitted under restrictive early action, you don’t have to go there.
  • The not so great part: You’ll have to apply to all other schools under regular decision.

Regular Decision

Regular decision has no restrictions whatsoever. The deadline for regular applications is generally January 1st; however, you won’t receive a decision until around April 1st. Use regular decision if you have been deferred from an early action school, or if you simply want more time to work on the application.

  • The best part about regular decision: You’ll have more time to work on your application and you aren’t obligated to go to that school.
  • The not so great part: You won’t receive a decision until around April 1st.

Good luck!


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