College applications, however stressful they may be, are some of the most important documents you will have to fill out. As you may already know, a college application compiles more or less your profile, and admissions directors compare yours against those of other prospective students. For the most part, you have a choice of what to fill in on your application. Another choice available to you is whether you want to apply to early or regular decision.
The main difference between early and regular decision is self-explanatory. One allows you to submit the app earlier than the regular deadline. However, their difference does not stop here. You might find that one choice offers more advantages. Applying early, for example, allows you to receive a decision, and in most cases, before the New Year begins. This allows you to spend more time thinking whether you want to accept their offer or apply to another college. You may opt to wait until the spring deadlines to decide. This advantage may help you complete your college search early without rushing your decisions.
There are two paths to choose from when applying early: early decision or early action. Early action, the more popular choice, is non-binding, while early decision is a binding agreement. “Binding” means that if accepted to the college, a student must attend that school and withdraw all other applications. Only if there are grounds of financial hardship can this agreement be waived. So if you decide to choose this path, then this school should be the school that without a doubt you would attend if you are accepted. The less compulsory path is early action because it is not binding. Regardless of which you choose, colleges give certain advantages to those who apply early. For example, in many colleges the acceptance rates are higher for early action than regular decision. Moreover, those who are not accepted early continue to be considered for regular decision.
Choose carefully. You may want to apply early for a better chance at admission and to have more time in choosing your college; or you may apply for regular decision so you can continue to build your application and have more definite college selections. Whichever you choose, I wish you the best in your college search!