The concept of early admission is simple: you apply early, you hear back early. Not all schools offer early admission, but those that do will typically offer some combination of the following three options:
- Early Decision (ED) is a binding commitment to attend the school if accepted. Early Decision I (ED1) apps are generally due in early November with notification in mid to late December, while Early Decision II (ED2) apps are generally due in early January with notification in February.
- Early Action (EA) is non-binding, with an early November due date and notification typically in December.
- Restrictive Early Action (REA) is identical to early action, but with added restrictions on where else you can apply. Some institutions call this Single Choice Early Action.
Colleges love early decision because it's binding, but from your vantage point it only makes sense if you're sure the school is for you. In contrast, early action makes sense all of the time since there is no obligation to attend. Either way, the key insight is that most schools admit competitive early applicants at a higher rate than those applying regular decision.
Regular decision schools that offer rolling admission or multiple priority windows are also worth noting. While they won't boost admission odds, they can often be treated like early admission opportunities. College Kickstart keeps an eye out for these situations and takes advantage of them when it makes sense.