Early Action vs. Early Decision: What's the Difference?

When going through the process of applying to colleges, it may feel like there are more terms you need to familiarize yourself with than actual schools you’re interested in attending. However, if you’re interested in being one of the first to apply there are two important terms that are commonly thrown around and could be confused with one another: early action and early decision.

What’s the difference between early action and early decision?

In short, the main difference between early action and early decision is whether you are free to consider other schools when you find out your admissions decision.

  • Early action: If you apply to a school through early action, you will find out if you’ve been accepted earlier than most other students, but you are not tied to that school. Instead, you can still apply and consider other schools you’re interested in.
  • Early decision: If you apply to a school through early decision, you will also find out whether or not you have been accepted earlier than most other students, but you will also be bound and committed to attending that school.

Although the word “early” is used in both of these terms, it’s important to understand the difference when deciding which the best choice is for you.

Why apply early action?

Do you have multiple schools on your list but you also want to know which ones will grant you admission? Early action may be the right choice for you. Because early action allows you to learn whether or not you’ve been accepted sooner, you have more time to weigh your options with the security of knowing there’s a spot for you at that school.

Early action might be the right fit for you if you are:

  • interested in exploring your options.
  • want to learn your admissions decision early.
  • want more time to decide which school is your best fit.

At Johnson & Wales, we encourage high school students interested in JWU to apply early action! In order to apply early action, you must submit your application by November 1, and you will learn your admissions decision by Thanksgiving. Learn more now about the early action process:

Why apply early decision?

If you’re a high school student who has their eye on the prize and knows exactly which school you want to attend, early decision could be the best choice for you. If you have ruled out all of the other options on your list and want to know whether or not you’ve been accepted to your dream school, early decision does just that, along with letting the school know that you intend to enroll.

Early decision might be right for you if you:

  • know which exact school you want to attend.
  • want to learn your admissions decision early.
  • Are willing to commit to the school you’re applying to.

It’s also important to note that when applying early decision to a school, you should not apply early decision to any other school as well since this is a binding decision. However, you could consider applying either early action or by regular admissions deadlines to other schools as a safety net if you are not accepted to your dream school.

What is rolling admissions?

Another term you may come across when looking at different admissions deadlines is rolling admissions. For schools that offer this option, high school students can typically submit their application any time before the application deadline.

At Johnson & Wales University, students who are interested in this option must apply by March 1. Students who apply after the early action deadline will begin learning their admissions decision starting sometime in mid-December.

Have more questions?

At JWU we know there are a lot of other questions students and their families may have about the admissions process. That’s why we have admissions reps standing by to answer any and all of the questions you have. Reach out today to speak with a representative and learn more about the admissions process.

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