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How Soon Are Early Decision Deadlines for Fall 2021 College Admissions?

As November approaches, that usually means one important thing in the college admissions world: Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) deadlines. You may be asking yourself, what makes these deadlines so significant? And, also, what exactly is the difference between Early Action and Early Decision? (And, of course, when are those deadlines?)

Allow me to explain.

Two Common College Application Periods

Colleges, in many cases, have two time frames for accepting applications: Early Action/Early Decision and Regular Decision.

Regular Decision

Most people are familiar with Regular Decision, which typically involves applying around the end of the calendar year and then hearing back about the decision during the following spring.

For Regular Decision, a benefit is that you have more time to complete your application and ensure everything looks superb. However, a downside is that there may be less room for acceptances (because spots were taken during the Early application window) and there usually is more competition from a wider pool of applicants.

Early Action and Early Decision

Early Action (accepted early but can still choose and apply to other colleges) and Early Decision (legally bound to college if accepted and cannot apply to any other colleges) are application deadlines that, as the names would suggest, occur earlier than the Regular Decision ones but typically give you a few benefits.

First, you are usually competing with fewer students, so the acceptance rates are higher. Second, for Early Action and Early Decision, if you are deferred, you get an actual second chance to improve your application in the Regular Decision window.

Just keep in mind that if you haven’t completed your application and essays sufficiently, you shouldn’t rush to submit Early. A mediocre Early application isn’t going to help your chances of acceptance. And you may get outright rejected, which means there is no second chance during the Regular Decision period.

Early Action and Early Decision Deadlines for Top Colleges (Freshman for Fall 2021)

Note: The dates listed are for EARLY DECISION unless otherwise noted as Early Action (EA).

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Need last-minute help before applying to Early Decision or Early Action? We can gladly help you tweak your resume, edit your essays, or review any other part of your application. Check out our College Admissions Services for more information! Don’t know where to start? No worries! Set up a FREE 1-1 consultation.


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