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18 Jan 2017 242 3 mins Share

The ‘Early Action’ or ‘Early Decision’ application process: what’s the definition?

What are these Early Action and Early Decision application processes that you are hearing about? Read on and research!

18 Jan 2017 242 3 mins Share
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What’s the definition of an Early Action or Early Decision application process at universities abroad?

Last time, we wrote about rolling admissions at universities abroad. Today, we talk about the differences between another types of admission processes called 'EA and ED’, that is, an Early Action and Early Decision. Well, these may not suit all of you, and you may want to follow the traditional route of applying at universities abroad for your studies, saving yourself from the hassle of choosing from several different options.

Early Action (EA)

When you opt for the Early Action (EA) application process at a university abroad, it means you are not bound to attend the university (not bound to get enrolled) if you are accepted; you will still have a choice to drop the option before the admission deadline, which is usually until 1 May of every year. The universities that offer EA normally inform students about their decisions by January or February.

Since students opting for EA are not committed to accept the admission offered to them, they will have the freedom to apply at multiple universities and compare the tuition fees and living costs so that they are informed better before taking any decision.

Occasionally, you may come across some universities (e.g. Harvard, Yale and Stanford, etc.) that offer a non-binding application option called Single-Choice-Early-Action application, under which applicants may not apply for an ED or EA to any other college.

Early Decision (ED)

When you opt for the Early Decision (ED) application process at a university abroad, it means you are bound to accept the offer from the university (bound to get enrolled) that offers you an ED, and you will be bound to withdraw applications that you have submitted to other universities.

Moreover, the university offering you an ED will have the authority to either reject or defer your application process based on certain reasons. Deferred applicants will be reconsidered during the regular admission period and rejected applicants will be eligible to apply again next year. Typically, ED deadlines fall every November and students are notified within a month.

The general disadvantage of choosing an ED method is you will be unable to compare the tuition fees and living costs of other universities because you will not have an option.

One important point to note here:

If you breach the ED of a university, you may face some serious consequences. It is better you either talk to our advisors or do your own research to find out what will and will not work for you.

Please check the infographic below to get a clear idea:

So, which method should you follow?

The Early Action or Early Decision is not for everyone; some would like to follow the conventional route of regular or rolling admissions abroad.

         1. The Early Action method is for someone:

  • Who hasn’t done a proper research on universities abroad.
  • Who wants to apply just for the sake of applying, and then choose the best.
  • Who is not willing to commit to any university; keep all options open.
  • Who wants to apply where his/her friends want to.
  • Who wants to invest some more time on IELTS, GRE, etc. so that he/she can build a strong profile before applying next time.

    2. The Early Decision method is for someone:

  • Who has done an extensive research on universities abroad.
  • Who is sure about getting enrolled at a specific university; that’s the first and last choice of the applicant.
  • Who believes the university will be a strong contender both academically and socially.
  • Who holds a consistent solid academic record.


We have pretty much highlighted all important points about the Early Action and Early Decision application methods. But you are bound to have doubts, and you should, on which method of application would be more comfortable for you. Try to read and gather information from all possible sources but don’t confuse yourself too much. Talk to someone who you feel can give you a clear idea on the above topics.

Image credit: WES student advisor.

Reference: Education Professionals. 

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