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You've Applied Early Action to College - Now What?

> You've Applied Early Action to College - Now What?
Blake Mischley
• Updated: October 30, 2023 • 16 min read

Congratulations! You've taken a big step towards your future by applying to college through the Early Action program. Now that your application is in, it's natural to wonder what comes next.
In this blog post, we will guide you through the process and help you navigate the waiting period before you receive your Early Action decision. From understanding the meaning of Early Action to handling the outcome, we'll cover it all. So, sit back, relax, and let's dive into the exciting journey ahead!

Understanding Early Action: What it Means

Early Action is an application option offered by many colleges and universities that allows students to submit their applications earlier than the regular admission deadline. It provides several advantages for applicants, giving them the opportunity to receive an early decision on their application.

1- Non-Binding Decision: One key aspect of Early Action is that it is non-binding. This means that if you are accepted under Early Action, you are not obligated to attend the college or university. You still have the freedom to explore other options and make your final decision later.

2- Early Decision Notification: Early Action applicants usually receive their admission decision earlier than regular decision applicants. This provides you with more time to plan for your future and make informed decisions regarding other applications and financial aid.

3- Competitive Advantage: By applying through Early Action, you demonstrate your strong interest and commitment to the institution. This can give you a competitive advantage over regular decision applicants, as colleges often appreciate proactive and enthusiastic students.

4- Flexibility in Decision-Making: If you are accepted under Early Action, you will have more time to research and compare other colleges and universities before making your final decision. This flexibility allows you to carefully consider factors such as academics, campus culture, financial aid, and location.

Opportunity for Deferral or Rejection: While Early Action offers the possibility of acceptance, it is important to note that you may also be deferred or rejected. If deferred, your application will be reviewed again during the regular decision round. If rejected, you still have the opportunity to apply to other schools and explore different options.

Understanding the meaning and benefits of Early Action will help you approach the next steps in the process with clarity and confidence. Now that you have a solid foundation, let's explore what happens after you submit your Early Action application.

What Happens After Submitting Your Early Action Application

Once you have submitted your Early Action application, there are several important steps and processes that take place behind the scenes. Understanding what happens after submission will help you stay informed and prepared throughout the waiting period. Let's delve into the key aspects:

Confirming Your Application Receipt

After submitting your Early Action application, the college or university will send you a confirmation email or notification to acknowledge the receipt of your application. This confirmation serves as proof that your application has been successfully received and is being processed. It is essential to keep this confirmation email for your records.

If you do not receive a confirmation within a reasonable timeframe, it is advisable to contact the admissions office to ensure that there were no technical issues or errors in the submission process.

Expected Timeline for Early Action Decision

Colleges typically have specific timelines for Early Action decisions. While these timelines may vary from institution to institution, you can generally expect to receive your Early Action decision between mid-December and late January. Some colleges may provide a specific date, while others may give you a general timeframe.

It is important to note that the exact date of decision release may not be communicated beforehand. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly check your email and the applicant portal for any updates or notifications from the college or university.

Understanding Potential Outcomes: Acceptance, Deferral, or Rejection

When the decision release date arrives, you will finally learn the outcome of your Early Action application. There are three possible outcomes:

1- Acceptance: Congratulations! If you are accepted under Early Action, it means that the college or university has offered you a spot in the incoming class. This is an exciting moment, and you can start celebrating your achievement. However, remember that your acceptance is still non-binding, and you have the freedom to consider other options.

2- Deferral: If you receive a deferral, it means that the college or university has decided to postpone making a final decision on your application. Your application will be reevaluated along with the regular decision pool. This can be a bit disheartening, but it is not a rejection. It simply means that the admissions committee wants to review your application in the broader context of the applicant pool.

3- Rejection: Receiving a rejection can be disappointing, but it is important to remember that it is not a reflection of your worth or potential. College admissions can be highly competitive, and many qualified applicants may not receive an acceptance. It is essential to stay positive, learn from the experience, and focus on other opportunities.

Understanding these potential outcomes will help you mentally prepare for the decision and manage your expectations. In the next section, we will discuss what you can do while waiting for your Early Action decision.

What To Do While Waiting for Early Action Decision

The waiting period between submitting your Early Action application and receiving the decision can feel both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, there are several productive steps you can take to make the most of this time. Here are some suggestions on what to do while waiting for your Early Action decision:

Keep Up With Your School Work

While waiting for your Early Action decision, it's important to stay focused on your academics. Maintain good grades and continue to put effort into your coursework. Colleges often consider your senior year performance, so it's crucial to demonstrate your commitment to learning and academic excellence.

Additionally, staying engaged in your studies will help keep your mind occupied and alleviate some of the stress associated with waiting for the decision.

Continue Applying to Other Schools

While Early Action provides an opportunity for an early decision, it's essential to remember that it is not binding. Therefore, it's wise to continue applying to other colleges and universities. Research and identify schools that align with your interests and aspirations, and submit applications to these institutions.

By keeping your options open, you ensure that you have a range of choices available to you when decision time comes. Remember to pay attention to regular decision deadlines and requirements for other colleges or universities you are interested in.

Stay Involved in Extracurricular Activities

During the waiting period, staying involved in extracurricular activities can be a great way to make the most of your time and demonstrate your commitment to your passions and interests. Continue participating in clubs, sports, community service, or any other activities that you enjoy and that showcase your talents and leadership skills.

Engaging in extracurriculars not only adds depth to your college application but also helps you grow as an individual and develop valuable skills that will benefit you in college and beyond.

Research and Visit Colleges

While waiting for your Early Action decision, take the opportunity to research and learn more about the colleges and universities you are interested in. Explore their websites, read about their academic programs, campus life, and any other aspects that are important to you.

If possible, consider visiting the campuses of the schools you are seriously considering. Campus visits provide firsthand experiences and help you get a feel for the atmosphere and culture of the institution. Take a guided tour, attend information sessions, and speak with current students to gather insights and ask questions.

Prepare for Financial Aid and Scholarships

During the waiting period, it's a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with the financial aid and scholarship processes. Research the financial aid options available at the colleges you have applied to, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Understand the deadlines and requirements for submitting financial aid applications.

Additionally, explore external scholarship opportunities and start working on scholarship applications if applicable. Scholarships can provide valuable financial assistance, so it's important to be proactive in seeking out and applying for them.

By staying focused on your academics, continuing to apply to other schools, staying involved in extracurricular activities, researching colleges, and preparing for financial aid, you can make the waiting period productive and set yourself up for success, regardless of the Early Action decision outcome. In the next section, we will discuss how to handle the Early Action decision itself.

When Do Early Action Decisions Come Out?

Early Action decisions typically come out between mid-December and late January. Since each college or university has its own specific timeline, you will need to check the admissions website of the institutions you applied to for the most accurate information. Some schools will provide a precise date when decisions will be released, while others may only give a general timeframe.

Regularly checking your email and the college's applicant portal is also crucial, as any updates or changes to the decision release schedule will likely be communicated through these channels. It's a good idea to mark your calendar with the decision dates or timeframes for each college to stay organized and prepared.

Lastly, use this time wisely by preparing for any possible outcome and ensuring that you have all the necessary information for subsequent steps, such as financial aid applications or additional college visits. Ultimately, patience is important, keeping in touch with the college can provide peace of mind.

How to Handle the Early Action Decision

The Early Action decision is a significant moment in your college application process. How you handle this decision, regardless of the outcome, can shape your future path. Here are some guidelines on how to handle the Early Action decision:

If You're Accepted

If you receive an acceptance under Early Action, congratulations! This is an exciting accomplishment and a testament to your hard work and qualifications. Here are some steps to consider:

1- Celebrate and Express Gratitude: Take a moment to celebrate your achievement and express gratitude to those who supported you throughout the application process, such as teachers, counselors, and family members.

2- Review the Offer: Carefully review the acceptance letter and any accompanying materials from the college or university. Pay attention to the enrollment deadline, financial aid information, and any additional steps required to secure your spot.

3- Compare Financial Aid Packages: If you applied for financial aid, compare the financial aid packages offered by different schools. Consider factors such as grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. This will help you make an informed decision about affordability.

4- Consider Visiting the Campus: If you haven't already visited the campus, now is a great time to schedule a visit. This will give you an opportunity to experience the campus firsthand, meet current students, and get a sense of the community and academic environment.

5- Evaluate Your Options: Take the time to evaluate your other college offers, if any, and compare them to the Early Action acceptance. Consider factors like academic programs, campus culture, location, financial aid, and career opportunities. Make a pros and cons list to help you weigh your options.

6- Make Your Decision: After careful consideration, make your final decision. Notify the college or university of your decision by the specified deadline, and submit any necessary enrollment deposits.

If You're Deferred

Receiving a deferral means that the college or university has decided to postpone making a final decision on your application. Here's how to handle a deferral:

1- Understand the Deferral Process: Read the deferral letter carefully to understand the college's specific deferral process. Some schools may request additional materials, such as updated grades, an additional essay, or a letter of continued interest.

2- Submit Additional Materials: If the college requests additional materials, make sure to submit them before the specified deadline. This demonstrates your continued interest and gives you an opportunity to provide updated information that may strengthen your application.

3- Continue Your Efforts: Stay focused on your academics and continue participating in extracurricular activities. This will not only help you maintain strong grades but also demonstrate your commitment and growth during the deferral period.

4- Consider Other Options: While waiting for the final decision, explore other college offers and continue applying to additional schools if necessary. Keep your options open and remain proactive in pursuing other opportunities.

If You're Rejected

Receiving a rejection can be disappointing, but it's important to remember that it does not define your worth or potential. I myself have faced multiple rejections. Here's my advice on best to handle a rejection:

1- Allow Yourself to Feel Disappointed: It's natural to feel disappointed and even upset. Give yourself time to process your emotions and lean on your support system for guidance and encouragement.

2- Stay Positive and Reflect: Remember that a rejection does not determine your future success. Stay positive and reflect on the lessons you've learned throughout the application process. Use this as an opportunity for personal growth and resilience.

3- Consider Other Options: Explore other college options that are still available to you. Research and apply to colleges with regular decision deadlines or consider transfer options in the future. Keep an open mind and embrace new possibilities.

4- Seek Guidance: Reach out to your school counselor or college admissions advisors for guidance and support. They can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the next steps in your college journey.

Handling the Early Action decision with grace and resilience is essential for your future success. Remember that this is just one step in your college application process, and there are still many opportunities awaiting you. In the next section, we will discuss the next steps you should take after receiving your Early Action decision.

Next Steps After Early Action Decision

After receiving your Early Action decision, whether it's an acceptance, deferral, or rejection, there are important next steps to take. These steps will help you navigate the path forward and make informed decisions about your college journey. Let's explore the next steps after the Early Action decision:

Plan for Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you have been accepted under Early Action, it's crucial to carefully review the financial aid package offered by the college or university. Consider factors such as grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. Compare the financial aid packages from different schools to determine the most affordable option. If you have any questions or concerns regarding financial aid, reach out to the college's financial aid office for clarification.

Additionally, continue to search for external scholarship opportunities and apply for them. Scholarships can significantly alleviate the financial burden of college expenses, so it's important to be proactive in seeking out these opportunities.

Prepare for College Transition

If you have been accepted under Early Action, it's time to start preparing for your college transition. Here are some important steps to consider:

1- Review Enrollment Procedures: Familiarize yourself with the enrollment procedures and deadlines provided by the college or university. Follow the instructions carefully to secure your spot and complete any necessary paperwork.

2- Housing and Roommate Selection: If applicable, research the housing options available on campus and review the process for selecting a roommate. Take into account factors such as location, amenities, and any specific preferences or requirements you may have.

3- Orientation and Advising Programs: Find out about the orientation and advising programs offered by the college or university. These programs are designed to help you acclimate to campus life, navigate course selection, and connect with fellow students.

4- Communicate with Your Future Roommate: If you have been assigned a roommate, reach out to them to introduce yourself and start building a connection. Discuss expectations, coordinate any shared items for your dorm room, and begin forming a bond before you arrive on campus.

Tips for Managing Stress during this Period

The period after the Early Action decision can be emotionally charged and stressful. Here are some tips to help you manage stress and maintain a positive mindset:

1- Practice Self-Care: Take care of your physical and mental well-being by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

2- Seek Support: Lean on your support system of family, friends, and mentors during this time. Share your feelings and concerns with them and seek their guidance and encouragement.

3- Stay Positive: Remember that your journey is unique and that setbacks can lead to new opportunities. Stay positive and focus on the options that are still available to you.

4- Engage in Productive Activities: Keep yourself busy by engaging in productive activities such as volunteering, pursuing hobbies, or exploring new interests. This will help distract you from any disappointment and keep you focused on personal growth.

Remember that the Early Action decision is just one step in your college journey. Regardless of the outcome, there are still many opportunities available to you. Stay proactive, seek guidance when needed, and keep an open mind as you navigate the next steps of your college application process.

Congratulations on taking this important step towards your future, and best of luck in your college endeavors!


I hope you found this guide useful. Navigating campus life can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Once you're accepted into college, hop onto MeetYourClass – your go-to platform to find roommates, friends, and your community. Connect with like-minded students, find your perfect roommate, and immerse yourself in campus culture. As you embark on your application journey, remember: your next chapter of friendships and experiences is just a click away. Best of luck, and we hope to see you soon on MeetYourClass!

Chief of Content @ MeetYourClass. University of Michigan '25.
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