Restrictive early action falls somewhere between early decision and early action. With restrictive early action, students apply to an institution of preference and receive a decision early without having to necessarily commit if they get in. However, in this case, there is a “restrictive” element: in certain cases, you may be restricted from applying to other institutions early decision or early action. While it’s not a binding commitment like early decision, you may be bound to only applying to this one school early, and you must apply to all others regular decision.
Few schools offer restrictive early action, but here are some examples:
SHOULD YOU APPLY RESTRICTIVE EARLY ACTION?
Pros: There’s not as much of a binding contract as ED, but it demonstrates a stronger interest than applying RD. It can also slightly increase your admission chances more than RD or EA.
Cons: It doesn’t increase your chances of getting in as much as applying ED. It also potentially prevents you from applying to as many colleges, since it restricts you from applying anywhere else early.
Restrictive early action tends to be best for students who fall somewhere between early decision and early action in terms of their readiness to commit to a particular school.
Based on an article from The College Essay Guy