Every year, the number of students who submit early applications increases and a recent WSJ article notes that colleges and universities are now filling up to half of their freshman classes with early admits. Consequently, the number of applicants deferred to the Regular Decision pile increases as well.
Numbers Are Overwhelming
“Fewer admits and more deferrals. I mean, across the board. The most extraordinary applicants are getting deferred,” claims one admissions counselor in the article. “So many strong candidates were aiming early this year to top-tier schools, the numbers were just so overwhelming.”
A look at the chart below shows a huge spike in early applications at some institutions. The University of Rochester, for instance, saw an increase of 35% from last year. “It’s been a long trend for us,” said Jonathan Burdick, Rochester’s dean of admissions. “The numbers keep growing rapidly. We’ve had double-digit increases each year for as long as I can remember.”
Burdick also emphasizes that the Early Decision contract is a binding one and that students who apply to additional institutions after being accepted to U. Rochester run the risk of having their acceptance revoked. Hence, students must be serious about attending a given school.
Looking for Every Edge
Nevertheless, as evidenced by the numbers, more and more prospective students are applying early in the hope that this will boost their chances of acceptance. Admit rates during the Regular Decision round at almost all of the Ivies last year were less than 10% and some (Harvard, Yale) were less than 5%, as was Stanford. Hence, despite the low early admit rates, students still feel that they have a better chance of acceptance during the early round.
Below is the preliminary early application data for the Class of 2023 at selected schools on the U.S. News & World Report list of top national institutions. These totals reflect only first-round data — for applications due in October or November — even though several schools offer further chances for early admission (known as ED II) in the winter also.