The Basics of Early Action Admissions -- Not for the Faint of Heart.


In the college admissions cycle, we could all use a little more peace of mind. Even though applying Early Action means getting your essays and applications together in a shorter timespan, the work upfront turns out to be worth it. In the long run, you can rest assured once you submit your applications, knowing that you’ll get a response sooner than you would have with regular or rolling admissions. 

Plus, the best part of applying Early Action (instead of Early Decision) is that your acceptance is not binding. You are still open and permitted to apply to  other schools. 

Early Action timeline 

One of the hardest parts of the college application process is the waiting game. Once you’ve submitted your applications, you’ve done all you can do. After hitting that “submit” button, you’re excited and anxious about hearing back from your top schools. Applying Early Action gives you some peace of mind -- you know you’ll get a response sooner. 

Usually, the Early Action deadline falls in early November. With Early Action (EA), you’ll get your acceptance letter earlier in the admissions cycle, but generally not as early as Early Decision provides. For the most part, you can expect to hear a response back sometime around January or February. 


Colleges that offer Early Action 

The College Matchmaker lists over 300 colleges with non-binding early action. Always check with the school you’re interested in to confirm whether or not they have an early action option. 

Some colleges include:

  • Boston College

  • California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)

  • Fairfield University

  • Georgetown University

  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

  • Georgia State University

  • Michigan State University 

  • Stanford University (single choice)

  • University of Miami

  • University of San Francisco 

  • University of Tampa

Typical admission rates

Similar to early decision, early action applicants are accepted at a higher rate than regular or rolling admissions applicants. According to Niche, “Admissions officers suggest that these differences are because of the higher quality of the early round applicant pool.” See table below, demonstrating the comparison between regular acceptance and early action/early decision acceptance: 

Source:    Niche

Source: Niche

Different types of Early Action 

  • Regular early action allows you to apply to multiple schools. Compared to early decision, which restricts you to one early decision school and binds you to accepting if admitted, regular early action gives you flexibility and more room for deciding yourself. With regular early action, “Most schools allow you to apply Early Action to multiple colleges and universities. You aren’t required to notify the school of your decision to attend until May 1, the same “college deadline day” as Regular Decision.” (Niche) 

  • Single-Choice early action means that you may not apply to any other schools early. 

Deciding to apply early 

If you decide to apply Early Action, keep in mind that this means gathering your application materials, finishing your writing supplements, and polishing up your college essay about two months before the regular admissions deadline. But, by planning ahead and managing your time, you’ll be even closer to hearing back from your colleges.