Guide to US Applications • Undergraduate

Busted: 7 Myths about Early Applications

POSTED ON 12/15/2022 BY The Red Pen

Busted: 7 Myths about Early Applications | The Red Pen

If you’re planning to pursue an undergraduate degree in the US, you’ve probably heard of and been encouraged to apply early. Applying early allows you to submit your application halfway through the senior year rather than towards the end of grade 12. While these deadlines come with their benefits–getting your admission result earlier, not submitting multiple applications–and conditions, applying early is not for everyone. Early applications are also surrounded by many terms and misconceptions, which we intend to debunk.

Here are seven myths about early applications:

Myth 1: Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) are the same

The Reality: There is a vast difference between ED and EA.

ED is binding. This means that if you get admitted to the university to which you applied ED, you must withdraw all your applications to other colleges worldwide, not just in the US.

Some universities that offer ED are:

  • Brown University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Northwestern University
  • The University of Pennsylvania

EA, on the other hand, is non-binding. This means it is not mandatory for you to attend the university if you are admitted. Under EA, you have until May 1 to respond to the offer of admission. Under EA, you get notified about your acceptance earlier as compared to Regular Decision (RD) applications. This enables you to compare financial aid awards and apply to other universities through RD, if required.

EA can further be divided into Unrestricted Early Action (UREA) and Restrictive Early Action (REA). Under UREA, you can apply to several colleges simultaneously. REA only allows you to apply to one university during the EA and ED application rounds; you cannot apply to any other private college or university.

Some universities that offer UREA are:

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Parsons School of Design (The New School)
  • Purdue University
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Georgia Institute of Technology

Some universities that offer REA are:

  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Yale University
  • California Insitute of Technology
  • Stanford University

To know more about application rounds and what each university offers, read this blog post.

Myth 2: You don’t have to attend your ED college

The Reality: It is mandatory you attend your ED college if admitted.

An ED application is bound by an electronic contract, which is signed by you, your parents and your school counsellor. By signing this agreement, you are bound to attend your ED college if you are accepted. Not abiding by the agreement will impact your school’s reputation and how other US universities evaluate your application. The only exception to the binding nature of ED is if the financial aid package offered by the university doesn’t meet your requirements. So, consider ED only if the college ranks high on your list.

Myth 3: All colleges offer ED and EA

The Reality: Not all colleges offer ED and EA. Some offer only one or the other while some offer both. For instance, unlike Babson College, which offers both ED and EA, New York University only offers ED, while the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign only offers EA.

Some universities, such as Emory University and Boston University also offer ED II—the second round of ED applications, which takes place later in the application cycle. You can apply ED II to a university if you were denied or deferred from your ED I university. However, if you then apply ED2 to another college, you are bound to attend that college if accepted.

Myth 4: You must apply ED somewhere!

The Reality: Choosing to apply ED is optional.

While applying to ED isn’t compulsory, it is mandatory for your to attend your ED college if you are accepted. If you’re unsure about which college to attend or need to improve your standardised test scores or school grades, we recommend waiting for the RD. This enables the college to evaluate you with additional data points, helping them make more informed decisions.

Myth 5: Your ED university must be the most competitive on your list

The Reality: Your ED college should be one that you are 100 percent sure you want to attend.

Most people believe that you should apply ED at the most competitive school. However, you should apply ED at the university that is the best fit for you. This means that it allows you to meet your goals and is a college that you want to attend over any other globally.

Myth 6: You have a better chance of admission if you apply ED

The Reality: ED does not ensure admission.

Getting accepted depends entirely on the selectivity of the college and the applicant pool. So, you should not count on ED to increase your chances of admission. However, there is no harm in making a commitment if you’re absolutely sure you want to attend a particular university.

Myth 7: You can apply RD to the same college that rejected you in the ED round

The Reality: Once a college has rejected your ED application, you will not be permitted to apply during their RD round.

Although not desirable, the decision is final and you will have to consider applying to other colleges during RD. However, if you get rejected, you will have ample time to select RD universities.

Now that we’ve cleared a few misconceptions about early applications, you must strategise and select the right ED and EA colleges is important. To know how to make your college list, read this blog. To know more about ED and EA, get in touch with us.