13. Early Action (EA)/ Single Choice Early Action (SCEA)/ Early Decision (ED) & Regular Decision (RD)
There are four types of college applications that you can send:
Early applications (EA, SCEA & ED) are usually due by November 1st, and you get the results in mid-December.
Regular Decision applications are due by January 1st, and you’ll get the results in late March/ early April.
Early applications indicate that you’re really interested in joining a certain school. However, there is a difference in the level of commitment:
Suppose University #1 accepts Early Decision applications. ED applications are binding. You cannot apply early to any other school. If #1 accepts you, you’re required to attend. However, if #1 accepts you, but the financial aid is insufficient such that you can’t afford the school (even after appealing for more aid) you can request to be taken off the contract, and only then can you apply RD to as many schools as you wish. If #1 rejects you, then you can apply RD to as many schools as you wish.
Suppose University #2 accepts Single Choice Early Action applications. For SCEA, you cannot apply early to any other schools. However, SCEA is not a binding agreement: if #2 accepts you, you are free to apply RD to as many schools as you wish. Of course, if #2 rejects you, you can apply to as many schools as you wish in the RD round.
Suppose University #3 accepts Early Action applications. In this case, you can apply early to other schools that accept EA. However, you cannot apply to University #1 and University #2 since you’ll be violating their conditions.
You may have noticed that you only have about 2 weeks after receiving your results for your early application before RD applications are due. Therefore, have your ‘back-up’ applications ready to go even as you send in your early applications. Although there’s no limit to the number of RD applications, 8 quality applications suffice. Remember to spread out your choices as we advised earlier. It’s also costly to apply to many schools since there are application fees and also fees to send official test scores to the universities.
Note: For early applications, colleges will receive November SAT scores before they make their decision. Indicate on your application that you have incoming scores and send the SAT scores directly (don’t wait to see your scores first). However, we hope that you’re already done with your SATs by October.