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Early Action vs. Early Decision for Arts and Humanities

Early Action and Early Decision are two popular admission options for students applying to colleges and universities. These options allow students to submit their applications earlier than the regular deadline, giving them a potential advantage in the highly competitive admissions process. While both Early Action and Early Decision offer benefits, they also have distinct differences that students should consider when deciding which option is best for them. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of Early Action and Early Decision specifically for students interested in pursuing arts and humanities disciplines.

1. Understanding Early Action

Early Action is an admission option that allows students to apply to colleges and universities earlier than the regular deadline. Unlike Early Decision, Early Action is non-binding, meaning that students are not obligated to enroll if accepted. This gives students the flexibility to compare offers from multiple institutions before making a final decision.

For arts and humanities students, Early Action can be advantageous in several ways:

  • Increased chances of admission: Applying early can demonstrate a student’s enthusiasm and commitment to a particular institution, which may increase their chances of being admitted. Admissions officers often view Early Action applicants as highly motivated and dedicated.
  • More time for portfolio preparation: Many arts and humanities programs require applicants to submit a portfolio showcasing their creative work. By applying early, students have more time to carefully curate and refine their portfolios, ensuring that they present their best work.
  • Opportunity for early feedback: Early Action applicants typically receive their admission decisions earlier than regular decision applicants. This provides students with the opportunity to receive feedback on their application and make any necessary improvements before applying to other institutions.
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2. Exploring Early Decision

Early Decision is another early admission option, but it differs from Early Action in a significant way. When students apply Early Decision, they are making a Binding commitment to enroll at the institution if accepted. This means that students who are accepted through Early Decision must withdraw their applications from other colleges and universities.

While Early Decision may not be the best fit for every student, it can offer unique advantages for arts and humanities students:

  • Higher acceptance rates: Many colleges and universities have higher acceptance rates for Early Decision applicants compared to regular decision applicants. This is because Early Decision demonstrates a student’s strong interest and commitment to the institution, which can be appealing to admissions officers.
  • Priority consideration for financial aid: Some institutions offer priority consideration for financial aid to Early Decision applicants. This can be particularly beneficial for arts and humanities students who may rely on scholarships or grants to support their education.
  • Early access to resources: By committing to a college or university through Early Decision, students gain early access to resources and support services offered by the institution. This can include academic advising, housing options, and orientation programs.

3. Weighing the pros and cons

When deciding between Early Action and Early Decision, it is essential for arts and humanities students to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Pros of Early Action:

  • Non-binding, allowing students to compare offers from multiple institutions
  • Increased chances of admission
  • More time for portfolio preparation
  • Opportunity for early feedback

Cons of Early Action:

  • Admission decisions may still be highly competitive
  • Less time for application preparation compared to regular decision
  • May not receive financial aid package information early

Pros of Early Decision:

  • Higher acceptance rates
  • Priority consideration for financial aid
  • Early access to resources and support services

Cons of Early Decision:

  • Binding commitment to enroll if accepted
  • Less time to compare offers from other institutions
  • Financial aid package may not meet expectations
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By carefully weighing these pros and cons, arts and humanities students can make an informed decision about which early admission option aligns best with their goals and priorities.

4. Case Studies: Early Action vs. Early Decision

To further illustrate the differences between Early Action and Early Decision for arts and humanities students, let’s consider two hypothetical case studies:

Case Study 1: Early Action

Emily is a talented visual artist who is passionate about pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She decides to apply Early Action to her top-choice art school. By applying early, Emily has more time to refine her portfolio and ensure that it showcases her artistic abilities to the fullest. Additionally, she receives early feedback on her application, allowing her to make improvements before applying to other art schools. Emily ultimately receives an acceptance letter from her top-choice art school and is thrilled to have the opportunity to attend.

Case Study 2: Early Decision

Michael is an aspiring writer who dreams of studying English literature at a prestigious university. He applies Early Decision to his dream school, knowing that it has a highly competitive admissions process. Michael’s commitment to the institution through Early Decision demonstrates his strong interest and dedication to the English literature program. He is accepted and receives a generous financial aid package, which includes a scholarship specifically for humanities students. Michael is excited to accept the offer and looks forward to immersing himself in the university’s literary community.

These case studies highlight how Early Action and Early Decision can benefit arts and humanities students in different ways. While Emily benefited from the flexibility and early feedback of Early Action, Michael found success through the higher acceptance rates and priority financial aid consideration of Early Decision.

5. Making the Decision

When it comes to choosing between Early Action and Early Decision for arts and humanities students, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each student’s circumstances and priorities are unique, and it is essential to consider these factors when making a decision.

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Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • How confident am I in my top-choice institution?
  • Do I need more time to compare offers from multiple institutions?
  • Am I willing to make a binding commitment to enroll if accepted?
  • Do I require financial aid, and how important is it to receive early information about my financial aid package?
  • Do I have a strong portfolio or application that would benefit from early feedback?

By reflecting on these questions and considering the advantages and disadvantages of each option, arts and humanities students can make an informed decision that aligns with their goals and priorities.


Early Action and Early Decision are valuable admission options for arts and humanities students. While Early Action offers flexibility and increased chances of admission, Early Decision provides higher acceptance rates and priority consideration for financial aid. By carefully weighing the pros and cons and considering their individual circumstances, students can make an informed decision that sets them on the path to success in their chosen arts and humanities disciplines.

Whether a student chooses Early Action or Early Decision, it is important to remember that these options are not guaranteed pathways to admission. The application process remains highly competitive, and students should focus on presenting their best work and demonstrating their passion for their chosen field of study. Ultimately, the decision to apply early should be based on a student’s individual goals, priorities, and circumstances.

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