Why “Early” School Choice Continues to be Critical To Admissions Success

Now more than ever before, colleges and universities are filling the majority of their freshmen classes via early admission programs. Unfortunately, this means applying early is a must at many selective schools, as regular decision admit rates are at all-time lows. Why? A recent article via Applerouth notes:

College admissions officers love early applicants, and not just because they tend to be among the best and the brightest. Remember, a college admissions officer has one goal: to enroll bright, dedicated students who are passionate about attending their school. From their perspective, early action and early decision candidates are a safer bet than regular admissions candidates – especially in restricted early action and early decision schools. A student who applies early is less likely to be “shopping around” or considering multiple schools. Early decision, in particular, is a guaranteed enrollment for an admissions officer, and that helps the college’s yield rate – the percent of accepted students who choose to enroll in a given college.

But as the article also points out, early admit rates are going down, not up. Why?

The pool of early applicants is getting bigger. Regular deadlines have passed, and many colleges are reporting record-breaking applicant pools for the class of 2022: Princeton saw a 14% increase this year in applications, while Penn saw a 10% increase and UVA’s numbers hit an all-time high for the third year in a row. Early application numbers are up as well, as students try to reserve their spot by getting in early. A rise in application numbers means a rise in competition across the board.

However, keep in mind:

Although schools are reporting lower acceptance rates for early applicants, students who apply early still have a better chance at acceptance than they do in the regular admissions period.

Hopefully, these numbers encourage you to choose your early school(s) wisely and perhaps err on the side of caution. More final numbers from this admissions season will be out soon. In the meantime, here are some numbers from a 2017 article on the same topic. Still very relevant, and help paint the picture:

Colorado College accepted 87% of its class through early admissions programs (they have ED and EA). Although hard to believe, the regular decision admission rate at Colorado College was just 5% this year. For students applying ED, the admit rate was 26%.

The story is not much different at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt accepts about 53% of its 1600 freshmen through its EDI and EDII programs.  This past admissions cycle, students who applied to Vanderbilt EDI or EDII had a 23.6% admit rate. Students who applied during the regular admissions cycle had an admit rate of just 2.7%.

Regular Decision candidates didn’t fare much better at Tulane, either.

Lindsay Hoyt, Assistant Director of Admissions at Tulane, said during a presentation in San Antonio that the university’s inaugural ED year was “successful” for the admissions office. She estimated that Tulane’s incoming first-year class for 2021 would have around 1470 total students, just 50 of whom had not applied either ED or EA.  

I often advise students (and their parents) to not “waste” their early decision card. It is not because I don’t want students to pursue their dream college—I do, but this can often wait until graduate school. It’s because they may end up at a school that is far less selective than their profile warrants solely because RD is nearly impossible today.

Here’s an example. Your top choice is Harvard. You have all A’s, a 34 ACT, 2-3 subject tests that are above 750, a strong but standard profile (which is most applicants), and attend a well-known competitive high school. You are not a recruited athlete, legacy, or underrepresented minority student. Harvard is a reach for you; I would advise you not to apply as your chances are going to be much greater elsewhere. You apply anyway and are rejected (or worse, deferred, which almost never works out!).

Your sights are still set on an Ivy, so you end up applying to them all RD, plus Stanford, and Emory, Rice, JHU, Vanderbilt, and Duke. In the best case scenario, you get into Emory and *maybe* (with a bit of luck) get into Cornell, JHU, Rice, Vandy or Duke—but there are no guarantees for you at those schools RD. Chances are you’ll get into at least one, but you could not get into any of them depending on how the early round played out at your high school. If it was a bloodbath (this sometimes happens), you could get shut out of all these schools because competition RD will be that much greater at your high school. A smart option would be to apply somewhere ED II (UChicago and Tufts = great choices).

When you have to apply during RD, you need to cast a very wide net. You need to throw in some schools that are safe bets from your high school, and this means safety schools. Apply to your state school early just in case, or if you apply ED, pair that app with as many “match” EA’s as you can so you can avoid relying on RD. If you have a top choice on your list that has ED II, highly consider that option if you do not get into your first choice early.

Contact us to learn more about our college counseling services, and how we can work together to choose your early school(s) wisely!

 

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University of California Seeks Cap on Out-of-State Students

 

From Inside Higher Ed: The University of California System on Monday announced a proposal to limit undergraduate enrollment from out of state, systemwide, to 20 percent, The Los Angeles Times reported. The proposal would allow the three campuses already over 20 percent—Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego—to keep their out-of-state levels. The remaining campuses would be allowed to grow to 20 percent but not exceed it, but only if the proposed systemwide cap is not hit. The university system has significantly increased out-of-state enrollment in the last decade, to 16.5 percent across the system, citing state appropriations cuts that have increased the need for other sources of revenue, such as the higher tuition rates paid by non-Californians.

The Times reported that faculty leaders oppose the university plan and fear that such limits could result in the system losing both top students and revenue that it needs.

The UC Board of Regents will take up the proposal next week.

Why I’ve Stopped Doing Interviews for Yale: Because the Admissions Situation is Crazypants.

Ben Orlin is right, college admissions is crazypants. The Business Insider article that stemmed from his Twitter post is worth a read.

Rejection by a university ought to feel like getting swiped left on Tinder,” he wrote. “There’s nothing terribly personal about it. The admissions office doesn’t really know you. The university is just looking out for its own interests, and you don’t happen to fit into the picture.

Orlin’s hesitation to be a part of a process that results in near total disappointment for applicants is even more understandable when looking at Ivy League acceptance rates.

For the class of 2020 the admission rate is below 10% for almost all Ivy League schools.

He flips that number around to talk about how many rejection letters Yale doles out.

No matter how sincere their intentions, the Yale admissions team is beholden to grim statistical reality: 94% of students are getting rejection letters,” he wrote.

Orlin suggests that Ivy League admission decisions should be chosen by lottery, and have base requirements that students must meet before applying in the first place. Will it happen? No. But something needs to be done.

Early Admission Stats – Class of 2020

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As you determine if you are going to apply to a school ED, or a few schools EA or REA, it may be helpful to know last years early admit rates. Early admit rates tend to be much higher than RD admit rates.  Check out where the schools on your list stand, below!

Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

Institution (Plan) Applied Admitted Rate Link
Amherst (ED) 454 180 40% Link
Boston College (REA) 8,600 2,700 31% Link
Boston University (ED) 3,461 1,050 30% Link
Bowdoin (ED1) 614 207 34% Link
Brown (ED) 3,030 669 22% Link
Columbia (ED) 3,520 Link
Cornell (ED) 4,882 1,337 27% Link
Dartmouth (ED) 1,927 494 26% Link
Davidson (ED) 692 290 42% Link
Dickinson (ED1) 251 220 88% Link
Duke (ED) 3,455 818 24% Link
George Washington (ED) 1,373 841 61% Link
Georgetown (REA) 7,027 892 13% Link
Georgia Tech (EA) 14,861 4,424 30% Link
Hamilton (ED) 578 240 42% Link
Harvard (SCEA) 6,173 918 15% Link
Harvey Mudd (ED) 464 77 17% Link
Johns Hopkins (ED) 1,907 559 29% Link
Kenyon (ED) 378 240 63% Link
Middlebury (ED) 954 398 42% Link
MIT (EA) 7,767 656 8% Link
Northwestern (ED) 3,022 1,061 35% Link
Pitzer (ED) 423 117 28% Link
Pomona (ED) 914 177 19% Link
Princeton (SCEA) 4,229 767 18% Link
Scripps (ED) 236 113 48% Link
Stanford (REA) 7,822 745 10% Link
Tufts (ED) 2,070 663 32% Link
Union College (ED) 400 228 57% Link
University of Georgia (EA) 14,516 7,500 52% Link
UNC – Chapel Hill (EA) 19,682 6,948 35% Link
Notre Dame (REA) 5,321 1,610 30% Link
UPenn (ED) 5,762 1,335 23% Link
Virginia (EA) 16,768 5,203 31% Link
Vanderbilt (ED) 3,400 800 24% Link
Wesleyan (ED) 1,009 381 38% Link
Williams (ED) 585 246 42% Link
Yale (SCEA) 4,662 795 17% Link

 

Source: College Kickstart

Tags: Boston College, Brown, Class of 2020, Colorado College, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Davidson,Dickinson, Duke, Early Action, Early Admission, Early Decision, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hamilton,Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pitzer, Pomona,Princeton, Scripps, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Wesleyan, Williams,Yale

So You’ve Been Waitlisted

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Although getting admitted off of the waitlist can and does happen, please keep in mind the number of admits is very low. Some schools waitlist thousands of applicants, only to offer a few hundred spots (or 0, or 20, or 50) in their incoming class.

College Kickstart’s sample of waitlist statistics from 160 private and public institutions paints the following picture:

  • On average, 17 percent of students accepting a place on a waitlist were admitted
  • 58 percent of the schools admitted 10 percent or less of the students accepting a place on the waitlist last year
  • 41 percent of the schools admitted 5 percent or less
  • 12 percent admitted no one

They note there are several factors driving low admit rates, including the size of the waitlist (often very large), and how well a school anticipates its admissions yield—I agree.

So what can you do if you have been deferred or waitlisted?

  1. Write a waitlist letter. This letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied. It should also be used to reiterate interest and a commitment to attend if applicable. *If you are not 100% committed to attending, do not say so in the letter.
  2. Have your guidance counselor call the admissions office and advocate for you. Ask them to back up what they say on the call in an email and ask them to provide additional information that supports your candidacy.
  3. Make sure updated grades/transcript are sent promptly.
  4. Consider one or more of the following:
    1. Visit the school and swing by admissions to reiterate interest. Sit in on a class, stay overnight, take advantage of any admissions events/programming you may not have during your initial application process.
    2. Obtain and have an extra letter of recommendation sent. This letter could be from a teacher, coach or someone else close to you who can speak to what you have to contribute to the university. *Side note on alumni letters­ and letters from well-known and or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no, they are not unless the person really knows you. If you think that a big name vouching for you will help, it generally doesn’t as a stand-alone factor, and officers can see through these often brief and less than meaningful notes.

Again, getting admitted off of the waitlist can happen, but it is a wise idea to get excited about the schools where you were admitted and focus on choosing which one will be the best place for you to spend the next four years!

Stanford Admit Rate Drops to Zero Percent

An early April Fools’ Day article by Frank Bruni, or a glimpse into our impending future? A hilarious yet sad read but thought-provoking and yet another reminder that we need to take these outcomes with a grain of salt.  One of my favorite bits:

“On campuses from coast to coast, there was soul searching about ways in which colleges might be unintentionally deterring prospective applicants. Were the applications themselves too laborious? Brown may give next year’s aspirants the option of submitting, in lieu of several essays, one haiku and one original recipe using organic kale.”

Thankfully, kale is an extremely versatile vegetable.

Don’t Believe The Hype


No, this post is not about the famed Public Enemy jam (but if you’ve forgotten it, sit back, relax and take a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vQaVIoEjOM). It is about the onslaught of “college admission revolution” talk/projects/reports of late. Remember a few months ago when 80 colleges and universities joined “The Coalition” for access, affordability and success, and everyone freaked out? Well, the hype train has left the station again with “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions,” a report who authors hope to inspire a more caring and authentic generation of young people. But, these hyped coalitions and reports are just that. As Sarah Harberson’s HuffPost College article aptly points out:

“Turning the Tide” beckons our youth to focus on quality and authenticity. What’s missing is a call to action for colleges who have been complicit and damaging to the “common good” of youth and opportunity. If colleges want to encourage caring, authentic and ethically-sound students, they need to make sure they are living by the same mantra. It is time to rebuild the playing field of college admissions. It should not only be a level playing field, it should be hallowed ground. To do that, colleges need to come clean about who really gets admitted before students believe that being authentic is more valued than being privileged.”

I won’t be holding my breath for colleges to change, but it could happen. Maybe, hopefully, someday.

 

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Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

The institution (Plan) Applied Admitted Rate Link
Brown (ED) 3,030 669 22% Link
Columbia (ED) 3,520 Link
Dartmouth (ED) 1,927 494 26% Link
Dickinson (ED1) 251 220 88% Link
Duke (ED) 3,455 813 24% Link
Georgetown (REA) 7,027 892 13% Link
Harvard (SCEA) 6,173 918 15% Link
Johns Hopkins (ED) 1,929 584 30% Link
Middlebury (ED1) 636 338 53% Link
MIT (EA) 7,767 656 8% Link
Northwestern (ED) 3,022 1,061 35% Link
Princeton (SCEA) 4,229 767 18% Link
Stanford (REA) 7,822 745 10% Link
University of Georgia (EA) 14,516 7,500 52% Link
UPenn (ED) 5,762 1,335 23% Link
Williams (ED) 585 246 42% Link
Yale (SCEA) 4,662 795 17% Link