All About Early Applications - EA, ED, RD, SCEA, REA
If you’re serious about your college education, you must have a strategy in place. You don’t want to be one of those students who ignore the important stuff and repent later. Get started with compiling a list of possible prospects of higher education at the start of your senior year. Application strategy is another aspect you should look into, with clarity on application procedures and options. To meet the deadlines by the end of senior year, you must have a firm application strategy.
You should understand that college admission is an intricate procedure, and getting familiar with the application process and terminology will help in the long run. Some application options are different in terms of deadlines, response dates, and commitment. They can be quite confusing, and if not carefully looked into, they might transform into reasons for you ending up the waiting list, or worse, missing the deadline.
But you needn’t worry as we’ve outlined the basic terms of college applications below. Getting familiar with them will let you correctly time your strategy and land that coveted spot. So let’s get started.
Basics of application timeline
Before starting to apply, you must understand the five main college application deadlines:
- Early decision (ED)
The application procedures under this category allow you to apply in earlier rounds. Early Decision is a binding agreement between you and the university that you will have to attend the university if you will apply early and get accepted. Students in need of financial aid are not advised to apply to under the ED plan, as they can lose their opportunity to choose the best financial offer among all of their acceptances. But if such students are very keen on a particular college, they can calculate the net price for their course and decide accordingly. Due to its binding nature, students, parents, and the counselor have to agree on an agreement that confirms that they understand all the plan’s terms and conditions and have no objection in the future.
- Single Choice Early Action or Restricted Early Action (SCEA, REA)
Under SCEA or REA, students have the opportunity to indicate that they are filing the option of Early Decision only with the particular college, but are not bound by an agreement. They can still apply to most public schools under this admission process.
- Early actions (EA)
Unlike early decisions, these are non-binding, meaning you’re not bound to attend the university if you get accepted. This plan comes in many variations depending upon the universities. Some of them will allow you to apply to multiple universities labeled as Single-choice Early Action, while others may restrict you to only one application called Restricted Early Action. Some universities are having different levels of applications under the EDI and EDII plans. You can apply to one school as EDI, and in case you don’t get accepted, you can go for EDII. There are no restrictions on the number of Early Actions.
- Regular decision (RD)
This is the most regular one of the application submission processes. The benefit of regular decision is that you’re not bound to attend the school that accepts you.
- Rolling admissions (Rolling)
Most popular in larger state universities, it allows you to submit applications with a large time window. Admissions are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
As different universities have a variety of plans, it’s best to check their websites and find what their official deadlines are. It will provide you a verification of the options that you were counting on, and help you make an informed decision those suites you the best.
Taking a deeper look
It’s understandable that you might still have doubts about these application processes. These plans can be confusing, so let’s dive a little deeper in each one of them
An ED is most suitable for students who know that a particular college is their definite first choice. You should ideally apply for an ED only if you’re 100% sure that this is the college that you really want to attend. The benefit of an ED plan is that while you may only apply for only one school, if you get accepted they’ll have to push-back all other applications and give you priority. It’s the best way by which you can demonstrate your interest in them and tell them that they are your top-choice and you will definitely attend if you get admitted.
Also as mentioned earlier, ED binds you to attend college in case you get accepted. So you need to be absolutely sure where you want to go. You would want to research meticulously on the college prospects and then finalize if you truly want to apply for an ED. Visit the university if you can or ask the regional admissions officer to do it. You can also take virtual tours if you want.
Financial aid is another important aspect to consider if you’re going with an ED. It will bind you regardless of whether you get complete financial aid or not. The agreement won’t give you a chance to compare the packages with other colleges since you’ve entered the consensus completely at your discretion. But if you’ve done the net price calculation and the college has agreed on it in the contract, then you can opt-out of the agreement if the entitled amount is not provided as financial aid.
Early Decision II
EDII are the deadlines that are really close to the regular decision deadlines. If you’re not sure that you can apply by the November deadline, EDII is the one for you. Even if you get denied by other colleges where you’ve applied for ED and got to know about the decision by mid-December maybe, you may still have a chance of applying through EDII applications.
Not much different from ED, these applications aren’t binding. If a student is ready to apply but doesn’t want to be obligated to attend the school on getting accepted, then this is an ideal choice for them. With EA you can freely compare the financial aid packages from other colleges and then select the option that suits you best. It’s suitable for those students who are looking for a solution between early decision and regular decision. Since they’re not binding, you can sit back and enjoy your senior year by completing your application early.
The generic idea behind Rolling Admissions is to offer a large application window to students, sometimes even lasting up to six months or longer. The colleges respond to application as they come, so it’s better to apply as early as possible.
A few general things to remember
Here are a few pointers that will help you devise an effective strategy when it comes to applying under deadlines:
- Once you’ve compiled a list of colleges, create a calendar and spreadsheet with all your application deadlines sorted by college names.
- When opting for colleges that offer Early Decision, remember that you’ll be bound by an agreement and won’t be able to opt-out if you get accepted. It's suggested that you should do the Net Price Calculation on the college website before finalizing on college.
- Early Action is non-binding and the best of the options available.
- It’s a misconception among students that applying under Regular Decision is some sort of a disadvantage. You should know that while it may be true for some highly selective schools that comparatively take in fewer admissions, if you’re uncertain about Early Decision or Early Action, applying for Regular Decision is a much better option.
- Under rolling admissions, apply as early as possible for better results.
College admissions can sometimes get on your nerves, but if you plan wisely, you can take full benefit of the options available. Be thoughtful while going for the Early Decision submissions. You should be absolutely sure and make choices on meticulous research. There’s no harm in applying for Regular Decision if you’re unsure. It’s much better than rushing your decisions and opting for Early Decision or Early Action. Remember, if you’re doubtful, it’s better to make a definitive decision rather than an uncertain one.