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ED, EA or RD?

Early Decision (ED): This is a binding admissions plan whereby students commit, unconditionally, to attending the school if admitted. ED deadlines are usually in November ans students receive an admissions decision within four to six weeks. The advantage of this plan is that, if admitted, students know where they are going early, usually by December 15th. Another advantage is that some schools have higher admission rates for ED applicants. The downsides include losing the chance to compare financial aid packages and having to commit to one school so early on in the process. 

Early Action (EA): This plan is similar to ED in terms of application deadlines, but it is non-binding. Students do not have to withdraw applications at other schools if accepted and, should they choose to enroll, they can wait until May 1 to mail in their deposit. Other than having to complete the application early. 

Rolling Admission: Under this plan, students’ applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rather than waiting to receive all the applications by a specific deadline, and then selecting the strongest applications from the pool, admissions decisions are made on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the earlier an application is received, the higher the chance of acceptance, and the sooner the student finds out if s/he is admitted. Students are notified throughout the year, rather on a single date, as with regular decision. Many state schools have rolling admissions plans.

Regular Decision (RD): Under this plan, students must submit applications by a specific deadline; typically between January 1 and February 15. Admissions decisions are not made until after all applications are received, to ensure that the strongest applications are selected from the pool. Decisions are mailed to all applicants on April 1.

Restricted Early Action (REA): This plan is similar to ED because you can only apply to one college early.  However, it is non-binding and you do have until May 1st to make your final decision.  

Click Understanding Admission Types to read an article that explains college admission types in depth.