Early Action for College Admissions

Generally early action is similar to early decision except the decision is not binding, so a student could apply to multiple colleges. The time frame is similar: apply by early November, get a decision by mid-December, although specific deadlines vary by school. It allows a student to compare competing offers. The exception is that there are four colleges - Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale--which have a single-choice early action program, meaning that an applicant can only apply early action to one school. Early action can be the best choice for students who know they prefer one particular school and have done everything possible to secure admission since a student will know the result of the application sooner, and to varying extents allows a student to compare aid offers from different schools. One report suggested that non-binding early action programs continued to be highly popular, and noticed that three schools--Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia--which had abandoned early admissions programs in 2006, reestablished them in 2011 after other colleges failed to follow their lead. Generally fewer schools offer the early action program but ones that do include Georgetown University, MIT, and Boston College. One account suggested that early action did not give as much of an "admissions edge" as early decision because it was non-binding.