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Early Action vs. Early Decision in Selective College Admissions

Posted by Categories: Gifted Students, Higher Education

Early Action vs. Early Decision in Selective College Admissions | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)On October 13, 2016, NSGT presented a webinar entitled Current Trends and Considerations in Selective College Admissions: What Every Family Needs to Know! After attending our pre-college programs in the summer, we want students to have successful beginnings at the college or university that best suits them. Therefore we felt this topic was a good one at this time of year for those families anticipating college entrance in the next few years. The interest is this topic was tremendous. If you weren’t able to attend and also are interested in viewing it, please see the video below or click here.

The webinar was presented by Dr. Matthew Greene, President of Matthew Greene Educational Consulting. Dr. Greene counsels families on secondary school, college, and graduate school admission, as well as career planning, in Connecticut, New York, nationally, and internationally. He has written and co-written a number of books on educational planning, including how to get into college and pay for college.

As Dr. Greene was unable to answer all the questions asked during the webinar within our time frame, our staff thought it might be helpful if we were to address some of the remaining ones in a series of blogs. Today’s questions center around early decision admission processes.

Q: Could you explain the “early admit/commit” process?  Is it really “binding”?

A: There are two early admit procedures. Early Action is one of those. Some schools offer Early Action, which allows the student to apply sooner than the regular deadline (usually between November and December). Therefore, the student will receive a decision earlier, as well. Early Action is NOT binding and if students are accepted via Early Action they are not committed to attend the school. In fact, students can still apply and be accepted to other schools, and will have until the regular commitment deadline, typically May 1st, to decide whether or not to attend.

The other procedure is called Early Decision. This process is binding, wherein the students commit to attend the schools where they are accepted. Students can apply to other colleges (let’s say Early Action Schools) but to only one as Early Decision. If accepted as Early Decision students, they must withdraw all other applications. Like Early Action, Early Decision applications are often due earlier in the fall, around November/December.

Q: Would you say that applying Early Decision to your first choice school makes you give up some negotiating power with other schools, as you cannot compare packages and what other schools might offer in merit money?

A: Students who apply Early Decision should be committed to attending that particular school, and as the school admissions officers view it, this school is perceived to be the student’s first top choice, without question. If students are accepted through the Early Decision process, they must attend the institution, and cannot remain in the application pool for competing universities.

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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