What type of schools should I be applying to for early action? Regular decision?
I heard that early action schools should be my "safety" schools and the regular decision schools should be "target" and "reach" schools. Is that right? Will I be at a disadvantage if I apply in the early action pool with "better applicants"?
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Generally, you'll want to apply to any schools that you really want to go to as early action. While there may be better applicants in the early action pool, early action also gives you the opportunity to be deferred, where they don't accept you but also don't decline you. Then your application gets moved with the regular decision applicants and you get a second chance to be accepted. Early action is nonbinding and often schools offer more scholarships to students who apply by the early action deadline. Applying early action shows colleges that you want to go there more than someone who just applies regular decision.
I would say to apply early action every opportunity you get. It really just an extra few percent in your admission chance for most schools. Whether its a safety school or top tier private school, if you are able to put together a compelling application in time, go for it (its only to your benefit). Restrictive Early Action and Early Decision are a different story entirely. REA prevents you from applying early to other schools, so you would have to consider if getting those extra acceptance percentage points for that one school is worth sacrificing the ability to ear them for other schools. Only ED to a school if it your dream school and you have your college financials in order (you don't want to get locked into a school struggling to come up with the funds for it).
Hello! Early Action should be your reach schools and target schools. Early stuff means that you would commit to the school, so it gives you higher chance of getting in, which is why if you want to get into reach schools, go early. There is also REA, restricted early action, which basically says, 'if I got in, I wouldn't doubt for a second that I would go here', it is 100% commitment. Go RD on schools you don't care about as much.