By now, you have probably started the Common App. Filling out the simple questions like name and address are easy but you also have to make some very important choices. One of the most important choices that you have in the application process is your admission plan. Most schools offer early action (EA) and regular decision (RD).
Early Action (EA) is a choice that allows you to submit your application before the regular pool. The perks to this plan are that you will have a decision sooner and if you are rejected, you will still have time to apply to other schools with regular decision as you will have your decision before Christmas. Another possibility is that a school may just defer you from the early pool, meaning that they will look at your application again in the regular pool. An applicant in the early pool should have a consistently solid academic record over time and should have already done extensive college research. Also remember that colleges don’t see early applicants’ senior year grades upon application review.
Regular Decision (RD) is the other choice for admission. The advantages to this are that you have more time for college research and more time for academic improvement. You can have more time to tweak your college list and visit more campuses. If you apply regular decision, a school will see your fall semester grades (first two quarters). For a student with a poor freshman year record (like me!), regular decision is the way to go! It gives a college a chance to learn as much about you as possible. The only downsides are that you won’t be receiving a decision for a much longer time (usually April) and that you can only be accepted, denied, or wait-listed. Denial from regular decision is unfortunately final, but some say that the wait list is worse. The suspense and not knowing will drive you crazy!
So again, if you have a really strong record and know what schools you want to apply to, go early action. If you need more time and want a college to see your fall semester grades, go regular decision!