Sep 18, 2015

Early Decision statistics every applicant should see

Penn gives ED candidates a huge advantage.
Binding Early Decision (ED) is one of several admissions weapons colleges employ to control evaluative metrics like “selectivity” and “yield” used by outside organizations seeking to rank or otherwise pass judgement on the quality of an institution.  

By agreeing to apply ED to any one of many schools offering these plans, students are promising to attend an institution if admitted.  In other words, they are not only giving up the freedom to choose among future offers of admission but they are also providing colleges with virtually a 100 percent chance of “yielding” them into the institution.   

And for colleges concerned about where they stand on the U.S. News pecking order of “best” colleges, this is an important tool for crafting a class “to spec.”  So important, in fact, that much time is spent tinkering with enrollment management strategies to ensure optimal effectiveness of these plans.  And make no mistake.  Effectiveness is assessed by how well it works for the institution and not for the applicant.

Some of the considerations that go into deciding how to structure an early decision policy include target students (legacies, athletes, top academics) and their credentials, deadlines, percent of class to be filled, and what the competition is doing.

Early decision gives colleges a great deal of control, and they love it.  Even those schools publicly professing concern about the level of stress the admission process is causing high school students are quietly increasing the percent of class filled by these plans, moving deadlines around, and adding clever alternatives like ED II—a second chance to profess undying love to an institution and guarantee a yield for the class.

So how can the average applicant regain some small part of control over a process that looks to be increasingly out of control? By gathering facts about how colleges use early decision and deciding if applying early is in their best interests.

To help counselors as well as students and their families analyze and compare various ED plans, Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy have assembled an amazing chart documenting early decision vs. regular decision acceptance rates at all the colleges and universities offering ED.  They are making the chart available, free of charge, on their respective websites (see below for instructions on how to access the chart).

“What we have learned from the data we compiled was that several trends in college admission are more concerning than we thought,” said Jeff Levy, an independent educational consultant (IEC) based in the Los Angeles area. “But we also found institutions standing firm against these prevailing winds and we were encouraged.  It turns out that the only generalization that holds true is that college advisers must really know the schools we are recommending or we may risk misleading our students when we talk to them about their chance of admission.”

The chart, based on data that is readily available to anyone taking the time to do the research, is organized alphabetically by college and drills a little deeper into how early decision relates to regular decision at the colleges listed.

According to Jennie Kent, an IEC working in Bogatá, Colombia, “This chart includes five main metrics:  Early Decision acceptance rate, percent of class filled from Early Decision, Regular Decision acceptance rate, percent of class filled from Regular Decision, and the ratio of ED to RD acceptance rates.”

And some of the findings are startling.  For example, some schools that give a very large advantage during the early decision round include:

University of Pennsylvania
RD Admit Rate:                                             7.9%
ED Admit Rate:                                              25.3%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             53.6%

RD Admit Rate:                                              17.0%
ED Admit Rate:                                              41.5%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             54.4%

RD Admit Rate:                                              15.6%
ED Admit Rate:                                              36.5%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED                40.1%

Duke University
RD Admit Rate:                                              10.8%
ED Admit Rate:                                              31.0%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             43.7%

Columbia University
RD Admit Rate:                                              6.1%
ED Admit Rate:                                              20%
Percent of Class Enrolled from ED:                43.6%

Northwestern University
RD Admit Rate:                                              11.3%
ED Admit Rate:                                              35.3%
Percent of Class Enrolled from ED:               54.7%                 

Some schools that practice a much more equitable balance:

Carnegie Mellon University
RD Admit Rate:                                              24.2%
ED Admit Rate:                                              33.3%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             21.2%

Rice University
RD Admit Rate:                                              14.6%
ED Admit Rate:                                              20.3%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             31.1%

Boston University
RD Admit Rate:                                              34.3%
ED Admit Rate:                                              42.3%
Percent of Class Enrolled From ED:             18.6%

Wake Forest University
RD Admit Rate:                                              33.0%
ED Admit Rate:                                             47.9%
Percent of Class Enrolled from ED:               39.1%   
On the other side of the spectrum, the University of Miami only fills 8.3 percent of its freshman class from ED and has a lower ED admit rate than regular decision.  Similarly, Hampden-Sydney College fills 31 percent of the class from ED and also has a lower ED admit rate than regular decision.

This is all very valuable information to use when making the decision whether or not to commit to an early decision application.  To access the complete chart, visit either one of Jennie Kent’s or Jeff Levy’s websites:

Option 1 - —> Resources —> ED vs. RD Admit Rates

Option 2 - —> English —> Resources —> ED vs. RD Acceptance Rates (under Free PDFs)

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