Inside Admissions: Early Action vs. Early Decision


susieseniorIt’s the most wonderful time of the year!  What’s more exciting in the life of a Transylvania Admissions Counselor than the holidays, our birthdays, and perhaps even (dare I say it) Rafinesque Week?

The December 1 Early Action Deadline!

The past few weeks have been filled with the sounds of bells ringing (mainly from our telephones) with questions about the application process.  Some of the most common questions we’ve received involve Early Action and Early Decision deadlines. Early Action vs. Early Decision?  Confusing? Absolutely!  But, allow me to explain…

IMPORTANT:  Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) deadlines are NOT the same. 

  1. Some schools have Early Decision – Transylvania DOES NOT Students may submit applications to multiple schools, but may only apply through the Early Decision process to only one school.  If a student decides to apply Early Decision, they are signing a contract in which they commit to attend that institution if admitted.  This can be tricky, as students are committing to attend a specific institution (assuming they are admitted) without prior knowledge of admissions decisions, financial aid packages, and scholarship awards from any of the schools they might be considering.
  2. Early Action is NOT a binding decision. Many schools (including Transylvania) have an Early Action Deadline BEFORE their Regular Decision deadline.  Applying Early Action allows students to receive notification of admissions decisions and scholarship awards earlier, but students are under NO OBLIGATION TO ATTEND THE SCHOOL if admitted.If applying using the Early Action process, students will need to make a final decision about which school to attend by the national decision deadline – May 1. Applying by the December 1 Early Action Deadline at Transylvania also ensures that you can be considered for all of our merit scholarships (including our Premier Scholarship Program.)  Since we want all of our applicants to have full consideration for our merit awards, we highly encourage students to apply by December 1.

Did you miss the December 1 deadline?  That’s ok.  We still have the Regular Decision deadline coming up on February 1 (which is also a pretty wonderful time of the year in Admissions-land.)

I’m known for using a ridiculous number of examples, so I feel like it’s only appropriate to end this blog post with one.:


Meet Susie Senior. Susie Senior is considering two universities – the University of Awesome and Cool College. Susie really likes both universities, but finances are a big concern for her and her family.

Susie decides to apply Early Decision to the University of Awesome and Early Action to Cool College.  After applying Susie went on a campus visit at Cool College and fell in love – she thinks it would be the perfect fit for her.  During her campus visit Susie also learns about some fantastic scholarships that she will likely qualify for at Cool College. Suddenly, the University of Awesome seems not-so-awesome.

When Susie returns home from her visit at Cool College there’s a letter waiting in her mailbox from the University of Awesome – she has been admitted with a modest scholarship.  Despite Susie’s love for Cool College, she is obligated to attend the University of Awesome because she applied Early Decision and was admitted.  It’s a sad situation for Susie Senior.

Don’t be Susie Senior. 

It’s always better to have multiple options than to limit yourself.  You never know what might happen!

Best of luck as you put the final touches on your applications!  Tis the season!

– Alycia Keller
Admissions Counselor