The University Network

The Pros & Cons Of Applying Early Action & Early Decision — Interview With Eric Eng, Founder Of IvyCollegeAdmit

TUN sits down with Eric Eng, founder of IvyCollegeAdmit, a consultancy geared towards helping students be admitted to highly selective institutions, to discuss the pros and cons of applying to college Early Action and Early Decision. 

TUN: Eric, thanks so much for joining us. 

ENG: Thanks for having me. 

Before we get into the specific pros and cons, can you explain what Early Action and Early Decision applications are? 

Applying early is really a student’s way to express interest in a school. If you were to apply Early Action, you would send an application early, but you are not committed to attend if you are accepted. With Early Decision application, however, if you are accepted, you have to go. 

So, one thing I always advise my students is to be sure you’re excited about the school that you’re applying early to, especially if you’re applying Early Decision, because you are obligated to go if admitted. 

Does applying Early Action or Early Decision impact a student’s chances of being admitted to an institution?

Absolutely. When you apply Early Action or Early Decision, the acceptance rates are significantly higher. In fact, they are anywhere from 3–5 times than the regular acceptance rates. 

If you apply early to Harvard, for instance, the early acceptance rate varies from year to year, but it’s roughly around 15 percent. It is significantly higher than the regular acceptance rate, which hovers around 3–4 percent. 

Applying early does increase your odds of acceptance.

Are Early Action and Early Decision options available at all institutions, or are they only available at selective institutions?

For the most part, they are available at selective institutions. Not every university has Early Action or Early Decision. 

Take the University of California schools for example. UCs are actually based on rolling admission. So, if you’re applying to Berkeley or UCLA, the deadline is November 1–30, which does coincide with the time frame of Early Action or Early Decision, which is November 1, but the UCs don’t have that early option for students. 

What are some of the common deadlines that students should be aware of, if they opt to apply Early Action or Early Decision?

That’s a great question. November 1 is the major deadline.

For students who are aiming for that early application, it’s really important that they put in work over the summer, because that early deadline typically happens on November 1. There are other schools that have an Early Action or Early Decision round number two, and that typically happens in December. 

You already mentioned that it can increase students’ chances of being admitted to institutions, but are there any other potential benefits of applying Early Action or Early Decision? In which situations would you advise students to apply early?

Because of the higher acceptance rates by applying Early Action or Early Decision, every one of our students always takes advantage of that and applies early.  

So, my advice for students out there is take advantage of this and apply early, regardless. 

Obviously you wouldn’t want to apply Early Decision to a school that you’re not 100 percent committed to, so that’s something to keep in mind. But, because of the higher acceptance rates, you should always apply early.  

The caveat to this is that many people will also argue that the early applicant pool tends to be more competitive. But, despite that, the numbers don’t lie. The rates are higher. So, you should always take advantage of that option. 

Now the opposite side of the coin. Are there any potential repercussions? In which situations would you not advise students to apply Early Action or Early Decision?

I would say if a student hasn’t put time, over the summer, into their applications, I would caution them not to. Because, the early applications are due sooner.

We don’t want to send in a subpar or half-completed application. So, for a student who hasn’t put in the work over the summer, I would advise them and say, “Hey, you know what, maybe it’s better just to save this application for the regular round.” Because, at the end of the day, you do want to put your best foot forward into each and every application. 

So, I would advise those students to probably postpone to the regular round, if they feel that their application isn’t up to par.

Thanks, again, for joining us today, Eric.

Thank you so much. 

This interview has been edited for clarity. Watch the full video here.