Early Decision Tougher Than Ever
The first results from this year’s college admissions race are in. Colleges sent out their early-admissions decisions last week. And the acceptance picture was depressingly similar to what it was last year – only tougher. Admission to “top” schools is difficult — the early-decision “edge” is eroding.
Early-decision applications were up at most colleges this year. But the number of slots in each freshman class reserved for early-decision kids held steady. Which means that the acceptance rate was slightly lower at most colleges.
Overall, about one-third of the nearly 100,000 high school seniors who participated in this early frenzy heard good news. Early-decision results varied widely – from a low of 20% at Brown to a high of 66% at Bucknell. And at early-action schools – Harvard, Yale, and Stanford – the acceptance rates were even lower – all under 20%.
“This is one of the toughest years we’ve seen in a long time,” said Mike Muska, the Dean of College Relations at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep, and a former senior admissions officer at several top colleges including Brown and Oberlin. “I’ve heard from colleagues all across New York about kids with 750 SAT scores across the board who were getting deferred or denied if they were unhooked.”
“Unhooked” is admission-speak for kids without a special skill or niche.
Early decision and early-action programs are used by many of the most popular and toughest-to-get-into colleges in the country. In exchange for an early application – and a professed expression of singular interest – colleges let kids know early in the senior year of high school whether they’ve been accepted. This spares the lucky ones an eight-month ordeal of waiting.
Early decision is a binding process: kids get to apply to one – and only one college “early decision.” If accepted, they must attend. The early action option at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale also limits kids to apply to just one school; and those programs are non-binding. Early action programs at schools such as BC, Chicago, Georgetown, MIT or Notre Dame allow students to apply to multiple early action schools. In short, there are lots of variations.
Kids, their parents, and guidance counselors know that chances of admission are significantly better – often three or four times better – if a kid applies early decision.
|College||2011 Early Applicants||2011 Acceptances||Accpeptance Rate||Denied||Deferred||Change from 2010||Size of Freshman Class||% Filled by Early Decision||Regular Admissions Acceptance Rate|
|Colorado College||392||153||39%||up 53%||510||35%||17%|
|Johns Hopkins||1459||561||38%||723||175||up 10%||1236||45%|
|Princeton||3443||726||21%||100||NA- Early Action only||1312||55%||8%|
|Harvard||4231||772||18%||NA – Early Action only||1633||47%||6%|
At Williams College, for example, 41% of the students who applied early-decision were accepted this year. The regular admission rate is expected to be about 17%. At Vanderbilt, the early-decision acceptance rate last week was 33%. It expects only about 16% of regular-season applicants to get the nod.