Early action is a type of early admission process for admission to colleges and universities in the United States. Unlike the regular admissions process, early action usually requires students to submit an application by November 1 of their senior year of high school instead of January 1. Students are notified of the school's decision by mid-December instead of April 1.
In this way, it is similar to many colleges' early decision programs. Early decision, however, is a binding commitment to enroll; that is, if accepted under an early decision program, the applicant must withdraw all other applications and enroll at that institution. Thus, early decision does not allow applicants to apply to more than one early decision school simultaneously. Early action, on the other hand, allows candidates to decline the offer if accepted, and depending on the program, it may be possible for a candidate to apply to more than one early action school and an early decision school.
There are two types of early action programs: restrictive early action and non-restrictive early action. Restrictive EA allows candidates to apply to only one early action institution and to no institutions for early decision, while, as the name implies, there are no such restrictions on non-restrictive early action. Regardless, the applicant is still permitted to reject any offer of admission in both types of early action.
Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia dropped all early admissions processes (which were binding early admission programs) in 2007. All three reversed course in February 2011, restoring an early-admission program, though less restrictive than previous offerings. Yale and Stanford recently[when?] switched from early decision to restrictive early action. Other schools that offer non-restrictive early action include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, Villanova University, and the University of Notre Dame.
According to Uni in the USA, "The advantage [of early action applications] is you will know much earlier and can plan accordingly. The disadvantage is that candidates who apply this way tend to be much stronger and rejection is more likely than in the regular admission pool."
- Jennifer Gross and Nicole Verardi (May 2006). "NACAC Early Decision and Early Action: Does the Early Bird Get the Worm?". The National Association for College Admission Counseling. Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- Beckie Supiano (February 2011). "Harvard and Princeton Restore Early Admissions". Retrieved 11 August 2011.
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