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When Applying Early Action Makes Sense

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Want to keep your options open, but still receive your admission decision early? Consider early action.

Early action is the most flexible way to apply early to college. You can usually apply early to other colleges. If you are accepted, you are not required to attend.

Applying Early Action to More than One College

Almost all early action policies allow applicants to apply to other schools for early or regular admission decisions. A few highly selective schools, however, employ "restrictive" or "single choice" early action policies. With these programs, students who apply early action are not allowed to apply early decision or early action elsewhere.

What It Takes to Apply Early Action

If you decide to apply for an early action decision, your application deadline will probably fall in November or December. Many students applying early action start working on their applications during the summer before their senior year. You will need to complete all your standardized tests no later than October of your senior year.

When Applying for an Early Action Decision Makes Sense—or Doesn't

Applying early might relieve you of some anxiety, especially if you get accepted. As with the entire college application process, just be mindful that you’ll need to balance completing and submitting your applications with all of your other high school obligations. It’s also important to consider that it might not make sense to apply to colleges you know little about. Do the research to be sure your early action colleges have the academic, campus, and social qualities you want. Also, if you don't meet a college's admissions standards, applying early won't help. You are better off focusing on improving your grades and applying regular decision.

Suppose You Don't Get Accepted?

If a college does not accept you under early action, you may still have a chance to get in. The college may automatically add you to its regular admission application pool. If it does not, you are free to reapply by the regular admission deadline. Check the admission policies of each college you're interested in.

Other Ways to Get Admitted Early

Many colleges provide other options to reduce the time you’re waiting for a decision. Some schools offer a "rolling" admissions option that allows you to apply within a specified period of time that opens up in the fall, usually September 1, and lasts through the spring, or until all spots in the upcoming class have been filled. Decisions on rolling admission applications are usually made within a few weeks after you submit your application. Some schools offer "second round" early action programs that let you apply by the regular deadline but get you your answer sooner than normal.

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