Student working with counselor

Early action. Early decision. Regular decision. Rolling admissions. If you are a senior in high school, you have undoubtedly heard these terms. However familiar the admissions terms may be, there are still a lot of myths that can leave students with misinformation about their application process. Today, we are debunking five common myths about applying under an early action deadline.

Myth #1: Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) are the same thing.

While both ED and EA have deadlines that are often well before the Regular Decision deadline, the two terms have very different meanings and outcomes. ED is binding, meaning you have already agreed to attend the college if accepted. This is a great option for students who know their #1 college choice and want to begin the admission process early in their senior year by applying to only one school. EA, on the other hand, is non-binding, meaning a student can apply and hopefully be admitted to a small number of schools early in their senior year but are not forced to make a decision as to where they will attend until the national confirmation deadline of May 1. Think of ED as already having made your unquestioned decision to attend a school, while EA means you are taking action early in the process to find out options for where you can attend.

Myth #2: EA is more competitive or less competitive than regular decision.

For many universities, including CU Boulder, applicants are given the same consideration as they would have received applying within the Regular Decision time window. Again, EA means you are taking action to learn your admission decision earlier rather than later; it does not necessarily mean colleges will give extra consideration based on when you apply. Now, some schools will report out that there is a higher acceptance rate for the EA applications. You will want to question individual institutions as to why this is. Does that school review EA applicants differently than Regular Decision ones or, maybe it is as simple as students who apply early are statistically stronger applicants and therefore more likely to be admitted regardless of when they applied.

Myth #3: Applying early automatically makes your application look better.

This is a myth. If the start of your high school academics was a little shaky but you really started to pick up the pace in your junior year, the admission committee might request you submit your mid-year grades of senior year before making a final admission decision. This gives admission counselors a chance to see more of your improvements and academic capabilities, and with a holistic review process at CU Boulder, those academic improvements can speak volumes.

Myth #4: Merit scholarships are only available for students who apply early action.

This will absolutely vary by school, but the above statement is certainly a myth for students applying to CU Boulder. We actually hear this myth quite often when speaking with students and their families. We hope this post will clear it up a little for all prospective applicants. Students who submit all application materials by either our EA deadline or RD deadline will automatically be considered for our merit-based, automatic-consideration scholarships.

Myth #5: All schools review applications the same way (this is more of a clarification than a myth).

For many of the schools you will be applying to, the admissions office will review applications similarly as other schools do, however, all schools will have their own nuances and styles. Keep this in mind when speaking to admission representatives from each school you are interested in applying to. Ask them; if they review applications differently depending on when you apply, are there advantages in the review process to applying early, am I at any disadvantage, real or perceived, by applying later? College admissions offices will be very honest with you. It helps them just as much as it helps you.

There you have it! Five common myths about early action, debunked. If you feel that you are ready to apply to CU Boulder and would like a decision no later than February 1, plan to apply and submit all application materials by our EA deadline of November 15. Keep in mind the last day to submit an application or accompanying documents is January 15, the regular decision deadline.

As always, check with your CU Boulder admission counselor if you have questions about the application process.

Happy applying!

How to Apply


Ryan Kelley

Ryan Kelley
Senior Assistant Director
Office of Admissions