Early Action (EA)


The term early action refers to an admissions process that allows students to submit an application to a college or university by November 1 instead of the general admission deadline of January 1.  When a student applies for early action (EA), they are notified of the school's admission decision by mid-December instead of the April 1 timeframe.


If a college or university supports an early action program, students applying for admission to that institution will be notified by mid-December whether or not they've been accepted for enrollment.  These programs effectively accelerate the college application deadline to November 1 (from January 1), and the admission notification timeframe to mid-December (from April 1).

Generally, colleges and universities may support one of two types of early action programs:

  • Restrictive:  this type of program requires the student to apply to one institution for early action, and does not permit the student to apply to an institution for early decision.
  • Non-Restrictive:  this type of program does not place any restrictions on the student.  They are permitted to apply to one institution for early decision and another for early action.

Unlike early decision programs, early action is not binding and the student is able to reject all offers of admission.  This statement applies to both non-restrictive as well as restrictive early action programs.  In addition, students that are accepted in mid-December do not have to commit to a decision until the normal deadline of May 1.

Early action programs remove the stress associated with the college admissions process, allowing the student to start their planning process sooner.  The disadvantage of these programs is the competition; the credentials of the candidates applying for early action are stronger.

Related Terms

apprenticeship, Career and Technical Education, concurrent enrollment, deferred admission, distance learning, early decision, early admission, internship, academic letter of recommendation, official transcript, FERPA