High school, especially as an upper classman, is a stressful time. Between keeping your grades up in class, applying to college, saving your money to try and pay for it, acing your standardized tests… and that’s just the beginning. Who wants to drop the ball when their future is on the line? Luckily, Early Action Colleges know this, and many of them work to help to remove as much stress as they can from the college application process. One of the ways they do this is by helping motivated students like you start the process a little sooner.
What Is Early Action and What are Early Action Schools?
Early Action is one of several types of early admission offered by some colleges. The specifics vary by school. Some of the typical hallmarks of Early Action Colleges include:
- An earlier application deadline, often on or around November 1
- Admission offers being released several months earlier than regular admission
- A smaller application pool, though sometimes also a more competitive one
- You can generally decline an offer of admission if you receive one
In some cases, the prerequisites for applying early action might be a little bit different than applying regular admission. How exactly they differ, however, could vary considerably, depending on the school and their priorities. Also, because you’re being accepted earlier in the year, it’s possible that acceptance could be contingent upon satisfactory academic performance for the subsequent semester.
Early Action vs Early Decision
Early Action and Early Decision might sound similar, but they have a few important differences.
Overall, Early Action Colleges are a little more flexible. You can apply early and get your results early, but you don’t necessarily have to accept it right away or at all. The timing might vary by school, but when it comes down to it, you usually have the freedom to think about it and decide whether you want to attend.
Under Early Decision, you also apply early. However, in most cases, the Early Decision process also asks applicants for a binding agreement to attend that school if they’re accepted. While it may be possible to get out of this agreement, there may be additional paperwork or even penalties involved.
Early Action Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about Early Action Colleges? You’re not alone! Here are the answers to a few more common questions and concerns students like you might have.
- What is restrictive early action?
Restrictive early is when the applicant must agree not to apply early action to any other schools. Instead, they agree to wait for their results before making any other moves. Non-restrictive early action, meanwhile, allows students to submit as many early action applications as they want. In both cases, if you’re accepted, it’s your choice whether to attend.
- Is early action binding?
No! Early Decision is binding, but Early Action only delivers your application results sooner, leaving it up to you whether you want to enroll. That said, make sure you review your potential school’s early action policies carefully to make sure.
- How do you get out of early action?
Luckily, since early action is nonbinding, this isn’t usually an issue. You should be able to decline an offer of acceptance if you decide you don’t want to enroll. That said, if you need to withdraw your application prior to being accepted or declined, reach out to an admissions representative at that school to get that process started.
Tips for Applying Early Action
Think you might want to apply to Early Action colleges? Below are a few tips to help you make the most of this opportunity.
- Do your research. If you want to attend a school, show them your dedication by learning all you can about them! Understanding their school culture and values could help you frame your application in an appealing light—not to mention help you to understand how you’d fit in there. Read the literature they make available, find out what their typical accepted student "looks like," and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Get some of your expected application requirements out of the way. While each school’s application process is unique, they tend to have a lot in common. Things like SAT and ACT scores, your academic transcripts, application essays, and letters of recommendation could all be taken care of in advance. Try and collect as many of these as you can before you apply to make your life easier when working on a shorter timeline.
- Go the extra mile. While fewer students typically apply Early Action, the ones that do tend to be at the top of their game. Taking those extra steps could help you set yourself apart from the pack. Consider doing things like scheduling an in-person interview, preparing insightful questions for it, personalizing your essay for that school, and even sending thank you notes after your tour and interview.
Example Schools with Early Action
While not every school offers an Early Action option, plenty of them do! Here, we’ve collected a few examples from our Sponsored Program Listings, which, at the time of this writing (Fall 2017), offer early action as an alternative to their regular application process.
Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is known both for their academics and research in a variety of fields. They’re one of the oldest Catholic universities in the United States. They’re anchored in Washington DC, and their school community is made up of students and faculty from across the country and around the world. They’re often recognized for quality. For example, US News & World Report 2018 ranked Georgetown as #4 Best Colleges for Veterans, #20 in National Universities, and #26 in Best Value Schools.
Georgetown University offers a non-binding Early Action option for first year students. And they don’t make you decide early—students accepted under Early Action typically have until the beginning of May to decide whether to enroll or decline. What’s more, they state that Early Action applications are not outright declined. Instead, students who aren’t accepted through Early Action are deferred, and their applications are given a full second review during Regular Decision. That said, Georgetown does advise that you sit for your SATs or ACTs during your junior year, to make sure the scores get to Georgetown in time.
University of Scranton
The University of Scranton was founded in 1888 under the name St. Thomas College. Today, they serve around 4,000 undergraduate students and more than 1500 graduate students in a variety of programs. The school also adheres to a commitment to service, using their resources to help people in need and better their local community in Scranton, PA. They’ve been recognized by multiple organizations, including US News & World Report, which in 2018 ranked them on lists including the Top 10 Master’s Universities in the North, Service Learning, and Best Colleges for Veterans.
The University of Scranton offers a non-binding Early Action program, which neither restricts students from applying elsewhere early action, nor binds students to attend. The school recommends Early Action applications for competitive programs like Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and the Physical Therapy doctoral program. Additionally, while most Early Action students have until the start of May to decide, several graduate entry-level programs have an earlier decision deadline of April 15. That said, in addition to Early Action, The University of Scranton also processes the Regular Decision applications on a rolling basis.
Temple University was incorporated in 1888, though its history precedes that by several years. Over the decades that followed, the school grew from several dozen students to the university it is today, at more than 35,000 strong. Temple is made up of 17 schools and colleges across eight campuses, and strives to foster a diverse and supportive learning environment. They were ranked several times in US News & World Report 2018, on lists including National Universities, Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Values Schools, Top Public Schools, and more.
Temple University allows students to apply Early Action provided their application is received by November 1. At Temple, Early Action is non-binding, and they don’t restrict you from applying elsewhere. Students who apply Early Action typically receive their results in early January. Applying to Temple under Early Action guarantees your application priority review over Rolling Admissions candidates. Early Action candidates are also able to take advantage of The Temple Option if they choose, as an alternative to submitting SAT or ACT scores.
University of New Haven
Founded in 1920, The University of New Haven offers career-focused education across a variety of disciplines. They have five campuses, including four in its home state of Connecticut, and one in Tuscany, Italy. Their enrollment in the 2016-2017 year included 4,936 undergrads and 1,899 graduate students. The University of New Haven has also been recognized in publications for their quality. For example, US News & World Report 2018 ranked them on lists including Regional Universities North, Best Value, Best Colleges for Veterans, Engineering Programs, and Business Programs.
The University of New Haven offers both Early Decision and Early Action options for potential students to apply. If you’re interested in attending, make sure you keep these two straight. Early Decision has an earlier deadline than Early Action, and students have to sign a binding contract to attend the school pending acceptance. Early Action, meanwhile, gives students until December 15 to submit their application materials, and is non-binding. Early Action applicants have until May 1 to make their decision. Because admission to their programs can be competitive, the University of New Haven recommends that interested students submit their applications through Early Action or Early Decision.
Duquesne University was founded in Pittsburgh in 1878, under the name Pittsburgh Catholic College. Its original mission was to educate the city’s poor and immigrant population. Today, the student population is nearly ten thousand strong, and the university has grown to include nine different schools of study. Despite its size, Duquesne offers a 14:1 student faculty ratio, with many classes having fewer than 20 students. US News & World Report 2018 ranked Duquesne on such lists as National Universities, Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Value Schools, Business Programs, Online Bachelors Programs, and more.
At Duquesne University, Early Action is program-specific, limited to Biomedical Engineering, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies programs. Early Action applicants to these programs generally hear back in mid-January. Early action is non-binding, and may have additional benefits not described here. Duquesne also offers Early Decision to students who are not applying to any of the previously listed programs; but in that case, it is binding, and may include additional deadlines or requirements.
Find Early Action Colleges Here
The schools listed here aren’t the only ones with Early Action options available for students. Plenty of schools offer similar application processes to students who want to stay ahead of the game! eLearners wants to help you find them. Click on the links above to find out more about the schools described or to get in touch. You can also get matched with more schools by filling out the form. Good luck!