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College Application Basics: EA, ED, RD, SCEA, REA

Basics of application timeline

Before starting to apply, you must understand the five main college application deadlines:

  • Early decision (ED)

The application procedures under this category allow you to apply in earlier rounds. Early Decision is a binding agreement between you and the university that you will have to attend the university if you will apply early and get accepted. Students in need of financial aid are not advised to apply to under the ED plan, as they can lose their opportunity to choose the best financial offer among all of their acceptances. But if such students are very keen on a particular college, they can calculate the net price for their course and decide accordingly. Due to its binding nature, students, parents, and the counselor have to agree on an agreement that confirms that they understand all the plan’s terms and conditions and have no objection in the future.

  • Single Choice Early Action or Restricted Early Action (SCEA, REA)

Under SCEA or REA, students have the opportunity to indicate that they are filing the option of Early Decision only with the particular college, but are not bound by an agreement. They can still apply to most public schools under this admission process.

  • Early actions (EA)

Unlike early decisions, these are non-binding, meaning you’re not bound to attend the university if you get accepted. This plan comes in many variations depending upon the universities. Some of them will allow you to apply to multiple universities labeled as Single-choice Early Action, while others may restrict you to only one application called Restricted Early Action. Some universities are having different levels of applications under the EDI and EDII plans. You can apply to one school as EDI, and in case you don’t get accepted, you can go for EDII. There are no restrictions on the number of Early Actions.

  • Regular decision (RD)

This is the most regular one of the application submission processes. The benefit of regular decision is that you’re not bound to attend the school that accepts you.

  • Rolling admissions (Rolling)

Most popular in larger state universities, it allows you to submit applications with a large time window. Admissions are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As different universities have a variety of plans, it’s best to check their websites and find what their official deadlines are. It will provide you a verification of the options that you were counting on, and help you make an informed decision those suites you the best.



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