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Early Action"There are no real disadvantages to early action," says Ted O'Neill, former dean of admissions and now humanities professor at University of Chicago. "Early action enables students to apply early in the fall and get a response by the middle of December. But admitted students have no obligation; they can still apply to other schools, and they don't have to tell us anything until May 1." Unlike early decision, early action gives you the opportunity to compare admissions and financial aid offers. But read each college's guidelines carefully, because policies vary. You should only apply for early action if you have a very strong interest in a school and you can compete with other early action applicants.
The Pros and Cons of Early Decision and Early Action
- If accepted, you can bypass all the admissions stress that comes with senior year.
- If you aren't accepted, in most cases, your application is deferred until the final acceptance decisions are made—so you have more than one chance to get in.
- Applying through one of these plans is a good way to communicate your interest in a school, which may convince admissions officers to consider your application more seriously.
- You'll have less time to explore your options. You'll have to rule out other schools that may offer more attractive financial aid packages.
- You won't be able to improve your profile with your first semester grades and activities.
- Early decision and early action candidates are usually very qualified, so it's harder to make your application stand out.
If you're interested in early action or early decision, speak to your guidance counselor, ask your prospective school for more information and read the guidelines carefully. Then, you can decide if early decision or early action is right for your situation.