Understanding Early Action

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Understanding Early Action
By M87 (M87) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:05 pm: Edit

I've read a lot about Early Action and Early decision, I understand Early decision and it's benefits for the students, as well as the university. But I'm a little confused with Early Action. So I'm going to ask a few questions about it:

What exactly is it?
Why would one apply EA rather than regular?
What are it's benefits for the students/university?
Who should apply EA, who should apply in the regular pool?

Thank you very much for any input.

By Willywonka (Willywonka) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:31 pm: Edit

"What exactly is it?"

It seems to me that it's just like ED, but non-binding and doesn't offer a real boost in admissions.

"Why would one apply EA rather than regular?"

The only thing I can think of is if one wanted to apply ED to a school that only has EA, that way one gets the same early notification of admission or "rejection," (in quotes because the application goes back into the regular decision pool).

"What are it's benefits for the students/university?"

I'm really not sure how it would benefit the university other than getting the applications of what are usually its strongest applicants out of the way. For the student, early notification?

"Who should apply EA, who should apply in the regular pool?"

One should apply EA if one has 1. the time and knowledge to put together the best application one can without the experience of filling out the regular decision applications first (obviously, the EA/ED app. will be the first one will fill out.) 2. the best stats one thinks one can get.

My biggest question is if it benefits applicants with slightly lower stats to apply EA. I mean, the EA round has the toughest competition, but it does demonstrate some interest, and if you don't get in, you go back in the regular round, but one thing I've heard is that the students who get rejected EA don't really fare too well in the regular round at the most selective colleges.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:46 pm: Edit

Early Action permits the student to apply to a college ahead of the pack and get an answer before Christmas break (about mid December). It gives the colleges a preview of what the pack looks like this year, allows them to start accepting some kids before the Jan1 RD deluge starts and identifies the early birds. Harvard has been doing EA for a while now, and it does fill a substantial percentage of its class early. By having a single choice EA option, they are singling out those kids for whom Harvard is their first choice. By accepting kid EA, many schools are lowering the chances of the kids applying to other schools, as many kids really HATE the app process, and if they get into a school by December, they would love to be done with the process. The multiple choice EAs are a bit trickier as kids can be applying to several schools EA, lowering the chance that yours is the one and only app and accept out at that time.

For the student, there are several advantages. It feels great having an acceptance in the pocket by mid Dec, and you can just stash the rest of the apps in the trash. I know many kids who only filed the one app-some had the other apps ready to mail in case of a deferral or reject, but had a great time shredding them when they were in at their EA school. Deferrals or rejections are an early appraisal of your status and you may want at that time to reprise your college choices. If you thought you were a shoo in at BC,and it did not happen, you may need a few more match/safety schools. And you still have time to make those adjustments.

Also, I feel that despite what many adcoms say about their EA applicant pool being stronger and they are every bit as thorough in evaluating the kids, that earlier in the game, the student has an edge. It is just human nature to be more lenient about who you are letting into an empty room vs a full one. Also, earlier in the process, you are not competing with earlier applications. The adcoms are not as under the gun, more generous and you may be the first Physics major of the season. In February when there is a slew of them, they are going to be more discerning. There is more maneuver room in forming this new class, whereas things get really tight in the selective colleges in February/March. Boiler room atmosphere. And an essay that might sound fresh in November gets stale sounding after the 28th applicant writes on the same subject.

By Willywonka (Willywonka) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 02:35 pm: Edit

Jamimom, your last paragraph made me feel incredible inside. Thanks!

By M87 (M87) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 06:40 pm: Edit

Thanks, that explained it pretty well. Now I know that for ED you are pretty much binded to one school, but as I understand you can apply to 1 or more schools EA? Is it recommended? What about financial aid...

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 06:55 pm: Edit

Some EA schools are single choice such as Harvard and Yale. In which case, you may not apply to any other school early. Others like Boston College, Emerson College are not. You may apply to as many colleges that permit you to apply that way. In fact some of the kids I know did a Duke ED/BC EA combo or a NYU ED/U of Chicago EA cobo for a big "one-two" punch with a rolling admissions state school and some scatterings of other EA schools as well. If they did not like the outcome of the batch, they could restrategize with some different combinations. It is really up to you how you mix and match as long as you don't break the rules. If ED1 turns you down and EA accepts you, you can maybe go for another school under ED2. Kid I know did that. He had a few EAs in his pocket, but was deferred by ED1. Went for ED2 and a RD reach as well figuring "what the heck". Was deferred or rejected from ED2. Was accepted to the RD reach where he was. Having that EA in his pocket really gave him psychological strength through the process, he told me. In fact it was a very close decision between his EA and RD reach choice for him, as he developed quite a fondness for that EA school as others did not act like they wanted him as much. It really mitagates a rejection and anxiety when another school is inviting you to special accepted student visits and other goodies. Application time can really be hard on the ego and psyche.

Financial aid is not as much of a problem for EA. You may or may not get a package early. But you don't have to sign on early either. You can wait and compare with all the regulars. If you are really hot to trot, you can call that EA school and say you will sign immediately on that dotted line if a package can be set up. YOU have the leverage, not the school, you are already accepted, you have not accepted them and can have many other choices. Some schools like BC have merit packages available for EA kids only. Some like Emory warn that ED kids will not be notified of merit awards until the end of the app season so they cannot be part of the ED consideration. U of Miami has EA, ED and RD and the financial and merit notifications are staggered. There is a matrix explaining how the dates are for the various catergories. So the short answer is "it depends on the school".

By M87 (M87) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:34 pm: Edit

Thank you -so much- for the detailed explaination on this subject Jamimom. I appriciate your help. =D

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