Early Action vs Regular Decision?
While early action means you will have an admission decision sooner (and, therefore, more time to consider your options), it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right option for you.
Early action may allow you to check off some to-do list items sooner and have an acceptance before winter break, but you’ll want to consider how your application aligns with typical admitted students. If you feel your application is strong enough, go for it!
However, the major benefit of applying regular decision is that it gives you more time. More time to:
Taking this additional time can help you improve your application and put your best foot forward. Regular decision is a smart option if you feel like additional time to address any of the bullet points above would help your application.
Whether you apply early action or regular decision, you’ll be able to compare various financial aid offers (which you can’t do when you apply early decision).
Does applying early impact financial aid?
Financial aid is not impacted by whether or not you apply early. Because financial aid is based on the previous years’ tax returns, most people have filed by the financial aid deadline.
“Need-based financial aid consideration is the same no matter when you apply,” reassures Meredith Stover, Director of Financial Aid at Babson. Based on the aid analysis, you’d receive the same financial aid package if you apply early decision as you would regular decision.
The major benefit of applying early decision or early action, explains Stover, is that you can complete the process sooner and have more time to think about your college investment. “If you complete the financial aid process when you apply, we will provide your financial aid package with your acceptance information so you know how much attending Babson will cost.”
Of course, because financial aid is based on the prior years’ tax returns, there are some situations where that information may not accurately reflect your financial situation. In that case, Stover recommends you reach out. “It is possible to appeal. We’re always willing to look at it.”
Babson meets 100% of demonstrated financial need in the first year, and commits to each student’s level of Babson Grant for four years (provided there is no major change to the family’s financial circumstances or a change in the number of dependent children in college).
Stover does stress the importance of meeting the financial aid deadlines, not only so you have the information with your acceptance, but also because some institutions won’t consider you for aid if you miss the deadline.
Early action vs regular decision acceptance rates
While applying early does indicate to a college that you have a strong interest in the school and its programs, it does not mean it will improve your chances of acceptance.
As Pierce points out, the rates will depend on the number of applicants. “The size of the early decision pools are much smaller compared to regular decision pools,” he shares. “And every year the pool size changes.” In 2021, for example, the early action application pool was Babson’s largest to date.
“More students want to get their acceptance back earlier and have more time to make their decision versus waiting and having about a month or so to make their final decision of where to spend the next four years,” Pierce explains.
His advice? Make sure you’re applying early decision or early action to schools you really want to attend. “We want to make sure Babson is the school for you and not just another school.”
Pierce also stresses that the admission criteria does not change. “We are looking for the same things whether you apply early decision, early action, or regular decision.”
Can I apply regular decision if I don’t get accepted early?
Generally, if you apply early decision or early action and are not admitted, you are not eligible to reapply for regular decision. You can reapply the following year or apply as a transfer student.
However, if you submit an early decision or early action application, many schools may defer your application to the regular decision round for reconsideration. Check with each school, as some may not offer deferment. This may impact whether you want to apply early or take extra time to strengthen your application for regular decision.
If you are deferred, the college will notify you of the decision. This often happens when there are a lot of strong applicants applying for early decision or early action.
If you apply early decision and are deferred to regular decision, you are no longer in a binding contract.