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First Round Of Early College Applications Due Saturday

Kim Pollock, 17, facing center, goes through college materials, as her sister Lindsay, 15, back left, watches, in her bedroom in Bedford, N.H. in November 2010 (Cheryl Senter/AP)
Kim Pollock, 17, facing center, goes through college materials, as her sister Lindsay, 15, back left, watches, in her bedroom in Bedford, N.H. in November 2010 (Cheryl Senter/AP)

At many colleges and universities, Nov. 15 is the deadline for applying for early admissions.

It’s an option that’s great for some students, but not all.

Guidance counselor Lisa Micele tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young that “early decision,” in which a student applies to only one school, where acceptance is binding, isn’t the best option for students who want to shop around for the best financial aid package.

Micele says “early action,” which is not binding, is a great option for students who’ve polished their applications by now and are ready to send them off.

10 Things To Know About Early Decision And Early Action

By Lisa Micele

Early Decision:
  1. Early Decision (ED) is binding.  You can only apply to one ED school.  You must withdraw applications to other schools if admitted.  The student, a parent/guardian and the high school counselor must sign the ED agreement.
  2. A student can be admitted, deferred to the regular round, or potentially denied. Ask each college or visit their website for details.
  3. Some even offer a 2nd round of ED with a later deadline, typically in January. This is still a binding agreement.
  4. Don’t feel pressured to pick an ED school to apply to. Unless you have a clear and sincere “first choice,” do not apply under this binding plan.
  5. Under ED plans, institutions will do their best to make the college affordable based upon early financial information submitted by the student / family. Meet all deadlines to submit required financial aid forms and tax information.
  6. There are ethics involved when applying under ED. If you are accepted with adequate financial aid, you must attend.  Do your homework first!  Use net price calculators, visit the campus, talk with financial aid/admissions, and talk with your high school counselor before committing to an ED plan.
  7. If the goal is to compare financial aid packages from various schools before making your college choice, ED is not for you!
Early Action:
  1. EA (Early Action) allows you to apply to multiple schools and is non-binding.
  2. Under EA plans, you can compare financial aid offers and make your final decision by the May 1 national reply date.
  3. If a school offers REA (Restrictive Early Action) or EASC (Early Action Single Choice) you can only apply to ONE school under this restrictive plan.  It is non-binding and you still have until May 1 to decide.
A Final Tip From Lisa Micele:

Have you done your college research and constructed a quality application to apply early? These applications take time.  Essays, recommendations and standardized testing may be required. The early round is not for everyone. Think about your personal needs, fit, academic profile and family circumstances. Reach out to admissions professionals and your high school counselor for assistance. And, as in all parts of this process, read directions closely and follow them!


  • Lisa Micele, director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois.

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