So, you have narrowed down your college list (hopefully), you have spoken to your parents about your financial aid options (maybe), and you have even gotten your academic affairs at in order at school to ensure a smooth application process (get on it!). But…what’s next? Depending on your timeliness or the time of year, two phrases may continue to pop up: early admissions and early decisions. They both have the word “early” in it and, either way, you applying to college, right? Wrong! Here are some things you should know about applying early and making early decisions: Early decision is legally binding. Yes, I said it, legally. If the college that you apply to using early decision accepts you, then you are legally obligated (fancy wording for you have to) to accept their acceptance. Forget about the other schools that may have accepted you. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. In case you missed the first time I said it, I will say it again, early decision is legally binding. (Of course, there are always exceptions. Check here and here for some more information. On the other hand, early admission is not binding. The deadline to apply will be sooner than it would be for regular admission but applying for early admission also means that you will get your acceptance (or rejection) earlier than you would have through regular admission. After all, the early bird gets the worm. Early admission is not legally binding meaning that you can decide not to go to one school in favor of another if you are accepted. Now that all the mumbo-jumbo legal-schmegal stuff is done, which application process is best for you? To help you determine the answer to this gargantuan problem, I bring forth an example that most (if not all) of us can identify with: going to the movies. Some people wait for a full year or even more (especially if you’re a die-hard Marvel, Star Wars, etc. fan) for a movie to come out. Once tickets are available for pre-order, they snatch them up as quickly as possible. For people like this, going to the movie theaters has no appeal. They already know what movie they want to see, and they already have their ticket. Let’s say the tickets are non-refundable, that’s still okay! It’s not likely that they’re going to give up their ticket anyway. Other people, who like a little more flexibility in their movie options, like to get to the movie theater a little early and look around a little bit. The movie theaters are still empty, and they’ve got some time before the afternoon rush comes through. They may want to see what kind of movies are on that day before they buy a ticket. After watching some trailers and looking at movie posters, they may finally buy their ticket. All before the afternoon rush comes in! Either way the “ticket” was purchased, both groups were able to see the movie that they wanted to, using the best method for them. This being said, the choice regarding applying to a college using early admission or early decision is up to you. Just make sure you know the key differences. Also, make sure that you are thinking of what’s best for you! After all, if you’re applying early then you are already on the right track.