When applying to college, there are many different terms that are used regarding the application deadlines.
Regular Decision is when colleges review most of their applications before notifying students if they are accepted or not. In this process, colleges set a deadline for completing applications and will respond with admissions decisions by a specified deadline. Students are not limited in the number of colleges they can apply to under regular decision.
Rolling Admission is a term used to describe the application process in which a college will review applications as they are received and release admissions decisions to students soon after they are made. Students can apply to other colleges and are not limited to a specific number of colleges under this plan.
Some students have a strong preference for specific colleges and may want to consider applying early. It is important to read the specific instructions from each college regarding their early application policies.
The two most common phrases related to early applications are "Early Action" and "Early Decision."
Early action means that students apply to the college on an earlier deadline and will receive a reply from the college earlier. Though you will hear early regarding your admission status, you are not committed to attend and you may still apply to other colleges and can choose to attend any college of your choice in the future.
Early decision requires a formal decision in that, at the time of application, you commit to attend the college if you are admitted. You are confirming that you will enroll and so you can apply to only one college under early decision. Once you have been accepted to a college through early decision, you must recall any other college applications that you have submitted. If you are not 100% sure that a college is right for you, then you should not apply under early decision.
If you have any questions about college application terms, please see your counselor.