Student completing the Common ApplicationEarly action. Early decision. Regular decision. Rolling admissions. If you are a senior in high school, you have undoubtedly heard these terms. But do you really understand the difference between them? There are a lot of myths surrounding these different decision deadlines 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 (RD) deadline, the two terms have very different meanings and outcomes.

ED is binding, meaning that you have already agreed to attend the college if you are accepted. This is a great option for students who begin the application process already knowing which school is their first choice.

EA, on the other hand, is non-binding. This means a student can apply and hopefully be admitted to a 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. Students who choose ED have already made their decision to attend a school, while students who apply EA are simply submitting their application early in order to receive an earlier admission decision.

Myth #2: Applying EA makes your application more competitive.

For many universities, including CU Boulder, applicants meeting the EA deadline are given the same consideration as do those meeting the RD deadline. Again, applying EA means that you are taking action early in order to learn your admission decision early; it does not necessarily mean that you are more likely to be admitted than an RD applicant. Now, some schools do report that there is a higher acceptance rate for the EA applications, but you will want to question individual institutions as to why this is. Does that school review applications submitted by the EA deadline differently than those that are received later? Or maybe it’s simply that 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 you began high school with some shaky academics, but then really started to pick up the pace in your junior year, the admission committee might request that you submit your mid-year grades during your 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 required application materials by either our EA or RD deadlines will automatically be considered for scholarships based on the strength of their admissions application.

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

All schools have their own unique admissions process nuances and styles. Keep this in mind when speaking to admission representatives at any college fairs that you might attend, and be sure to ask them the following questions:

  1. Does your institution review applications differently depending on when it was submitted?

  2. What advantages are there to applying early? Would applying later put me at a disadvantage?

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!
Written by CU Boulder Office of Admissions