Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference? And Important Dates You Need to Know

Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between early action vs. early decision when it comes to college acceptance?

With decision release and application deadline dates fast approaching for early action (EA) and early decision (ED) plans, a lot of questions have come up about what makes the two different. On the same note, prospective students are curious about exactly when they’ll be notified about their acceptance.

Before we get to some important early decision and early action decision release dates, let’s go over exactly what each term means. 

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What is early action?

Early action plans mean a student is notified of their acceptance, but under a non-binding agreement. That means a student doesn’t have to formally commit to a school or make their decision until the typical date (usually May 1). 

Early action applications are typically sent in around November, and students tend to hear back sometime in January or February. 

What is early decision? 

Unlike early action plans, early decision plans do signify a binding agreement between a student and a college. That means the student must attend that college if they’re accepted. This comes after reviewing and accepting an offer of financial aid for that school if there is one. 

Because of what early decision plans entail, a student can only apply to one school for early decision, but can still apply to other schools with regular admission. 

Early decision applications are usually sent in around mid-November, and students usually hear back by December. But we’ll get to some more specific dates later.

Which schools have early action and early decision plans?

In the United States, there are around 450 schools with EA or ED plans, and some with both. 

Some schools have what’s known as single-choice early action. This means a student must not apply for either EA or ED to any other school. 

When should students apply for early admission?

Early admissions aren’t right for every student. But in some cases, it can pose significant advantages. 

A student must have researched colleges extensively, and made a list of schools that are a good fit socially, academically, vocationally, and financially. 

Without doing the proper research before applying for early decision to a college, a student risks committing themselves to a school that really isn’t the right choice for them. To help you make sure a school is the right fit, click here. 

But now, back to those advantages of EA and ED plans…

The college application and admissions process is notoriously stressful for students and parents alike. (Though it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ways to help your child through the college application process). 

One great thing about early admissions and early decision plans is you can get some of that stress out of the way sooner and enjoy the rest of your senior year. It also means you have more time to secure housing and figure out some of the logistics of attending college. 

These application dates can impact your student and financial aid. You can read more about that right here. 

Early action and early decision release dates for the class of 2024.

Now, let’s get to some important dates for early action and early decision schools. These are just a few examples of the schools with EA and ED plans and their decision release dates.

ED application decision release dates

  • Amherst College: December 15
  • Boston College: December 25
  • Brown University: Mid-December
  • Columbia University: Mid-December
  • Cornell University: Mid-December
  • Duke University: December 15
  • Harvard University: Mid-December
  • New York University: December 15
  • Yale University: Mid-December

EA application decision release dates: 

  • Babson College: January 1
  • Berklee College of Music: January 31
  • Tulane University: December 15
  • University of Chicago: Mid-December 
  • University of Michigan: December 24
  • University of Notre Dame: December 24
  • Wheaton College: January 15

Which schools are you planning to apply for early decision or early application? Let me know in the comments below. 

Are you looking for one-on-one guidance for how to get into (or pay for) college? Click here for help. 

If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss these either: 

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Colleges with Free Laundry: A Time and Money Saving Consideration

how to do laundry in college

For many of us, laundry is a dreaded chore. But when you have to pay for each and every load, this task becomes even more daunting.

As many colleges charge for the use of their laundry services, this could be an extra challenge for students.

The transition to freshman year of college can be tough even when the college is a good fit—academically, socially, vocationally and financially.

Contrary to what most may think, the biggest adjustment for college freshmen is social. This includes things like life skills, independence, roommate issues, organizational skills, and time management.

Learning new skills in college.

One of these challenging life skills can be when a student tries to figure out how to do laundry in college.

College life is busy and requires tremendous discipline as freshmen adjust to life away from home with more freedom and independence.

When my son was a freshman at Stanford, it was a major adjustment for him to manage his time, given all the social distractions that come with college, like meeting new friends, joining clubs, and going to parties.

When he came home for break, I was pleasantly surprised that he had no dirty laundry.

I thought to myself, “Wow, how impressive! He made time to do laundry!”

Well, I quickly learned that Stanford has free laundry. So, I guess it wasn’t that impressive…

Time and money saving tips for university students.

Having free laundry in college really does make life a bit easier.

It becomes one less thing for students to worry about.

No more, “Just finished studying at 1 a.m. in the morning . . . time to do laundry. No quarters . . . need to do laundry. Need a clean shirt for an interview . . . must do laundry.”

When I was in college at Stanford, there was no such thing as free laundry. I would spend a lot of wasted time thinking about how I was going to get quarters to do laundry.

Even though there was a bank on campus, it was a hassle because the bank’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours didn’t always work with my schedule. If I was lucky, I could borrow quarters from my dorm mates.

If free laundry had been an option, my (and my fellow students’) eternal struggle of figuring out how to do laundry at college would have been solved.

As was proven by my son’s experience, some things never change, like how busy and demanding the life of a college student can be. That’s why any opportunity for a student to save money and time should be looked at seriously.

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Free laundry shouldn’t be overlooked.

When a high school junior is developing their college list, free laundry may not be at the top of their list of considerations for a fit. But once they’re in college, it will make a huge difference for them.

So, when you’re putting together a list of colleges your child might want to attend, don’t discount the power of free laundry! Include information about the laundry services offered by colleges in your searches.

It might seem like a small thing at the time, but it can save valuable time and money at college—two precious resources that can be better spent elsewhere.

If you’d like to hear more about how to put together a college list, don’t miss this post. 

Are you looking for one-on-one guidance for how to get into (or pay for) college? Click here for help.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss these either:

Living Off Campus: Pros and Cons
College Application Checklist
Get In and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors