Your Guide to Early Admissions

15 MAR 2023

If you’re a high school junior, you might be wondering if you can get an early head start and apply to colleges before your senior year starts. Good news: you can apply to college as a junior through early admissions. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of early college admissions, what type of early applications are binding, the requirements and eligibility criteria, the differences between early action and early decision, and the steps involved in the process.

What is early admission to college?

Early college admissions is a process that allows high school juniors to apply to college before their senior year. This means that students can submit their applications and receive admission decisions earlier than the regular admission cycle. Early admission typically has different deadlines than regular admission, and there are two different types of early applications: early action and early decision.

Benefits of Early College Admissions

1. Higher Acceptance Rates

Applying to college early can increase your chances of getting into your dream school. During the early admission cycle, there are typically fewer applicants than during regular admission, which means that there is less competition for a spot in the year’s incoming class. Applying early also shows admissions officers that you’re serious and enthusiastic about attending.

Class of 2025 Early vs Regular Admission Stats
UniversityEarly Round Applicants Early Round Acceptance Rate Regular Round Acceptance Rate
Dartmouth2,66421% 4.5%

2. Less Stress

Applying to college can be stressful, and doing it during your senior year can add even more stress to an already challenging time. By applying early, you can get the college application process out of the way before your senior year, allowing you to focus on your coursework and other activities.

3. More Time to Plan

If you apply early and are accepted, you have more time to plan for your college experience. You can begin researching housing options, financial aid, and other important details well before the regular admission cycle. This can help you feel more prepared and confident about your college choice.

What are the requirements for early admission?

The requirements for early admissions are usually almost identical to those for regular decision, and the material you have to provide is essentially the same. However, some universities may have extra requirements or expectations for early admission, such as submitting additional application material. It's necessary to thoroughly research the admission requirements and criteria for the college you’re interested in.

The deadline for early admissions is sooner, so you'll need to complete specific requirements several months earlier. This includes requesting letters of recommendation and taking standardized tests earlier than usual.

US university application timeline and deadlines

It's important to keep in mind that if you don't meet the college's early admissions criteria, it could be worth waiting and applying during the regular admissions cycle. For instance, if your academic progress is not on track, it might be better to wait another semester to improve your grades before submitting your application.

Early Action vs Early Decision

There are two types of early college admissions programs: early action and early decision.

Early action

Early action is an application option offered by some colleges and universities. It allows you to submit your application early and receive an admission decision sooner than the regular application deadline. Early action is non-binding; if you’re accepted, you still have until the regular decision deadline to accept or decline the offer.


  • Higher acceptance rates than regular decision
  • Early action applications are non-binding, so you can apply to multiple colleges and compare offers before making a final decision.
  • Early action allows you to compare financial aid packages from different colleges.


  • Early action is only offered by a handful of colleges

Early decision

Early decision is a binding application option, meaning it requires you to commit to attending the school if accepted, and you must withdraw all other applications. Early decision applications typically have earlier deadlines than early action applications, and you’ll be notified of the admission decision earlier.

There are two variations of early decision admission programs, Early Decision I (ED I) and Early Decision II (ED II). The main difference between ED I and ED II is the application deadlines; ED I applications typically have a deadline in November, while ED II applications are due in January or February.



  • Early decision is binding, meaning you can only apply to one college
  • Since you're applying for only one college, you won't have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages with other schools
Early Action vs Early Decision: Pros and Cons
Application TypeProsCons
Early Action- Higher acceptance rates than regular admission - Non-binding - Comparing financial aid packages is still possible- Only offered by a handful of colleges
Early Decision- Even higher acceptance rates than Early Action- Binding - Lower chances of financial aid

How does early admission impact scholarships?

Although applying through early decision has its advantages, it could potentially affect your chances of receiving financial aid.

Early decision

If you choose to submit an early decision application, you're only applying to one college, and must withdraw all other applications. This means that you won't have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages with other schools.

Additionally, since students who apply through early decision have already committed to attending the college if accepted, it's not necessary for colleges to offer merit-based aid, which is usually used as a means of attracting high-achieving students.

Early action

As an early action applicant, you have more flexibility when it comes to financial aid. You can apply to multiple colleges and compare financial aid packages before making a final decision. If getting financial aid is essential to you, an early action application might suit you better.


How can Crimson help?

Boost your chances of admission to top universities by up to 700% with our unique college admissions counseling that addresses every aspect of the application process, including timelines and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you apply to multiple schools with early decision?

You can only only apply to one college under early decision. However, it's possible to apply to other schools under regular decision or other non-binding early action programs.

Are there other differences between ED I and ED II?

ED I is generally considered the more competitive option, as it has an earlier deadline and higher number of applicants. This can be an advantage if you have a strong application and are ready to commit to a school early.

Can you withdraw an early decision application?

There are certain circumstances in which you may be able to withdraw your early decision application without penalty. For example, if you're unable to attend the school due to financial reasons or other extenuating circumstances, the school may allow you to withdraw your application.

Can backing out of early decision hurt your chances at other colleges?

Withdrawing an early decision application can negatively impact your future college applications. Before making any decisions, it's a good idea to speak with a guidance counselor or admissions representative at the school in question to discuss your options and any potential consequences.

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