With rising numbers of students all over the country applying to college—especially the most selective schools, it is no wonder that they are grasping for every possible advantage. One of the most well-documented ways to increase your chances of admission to a top school is to apply early, either through Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED). Early programs usually have deadlines in October and early November, which can be a scramble for some students, yet the higher acceptance rates justify getting applications in early. In fact, colleges this year have reported major surges in the number of first-round early applications compared to previous years:
In the case of some of these schools, like Duke University, the number of early applications has more than doubled since 2010, leading to plummeting early admissions rates, from 29% to 18%. At the University of Rochester, the number of Early Decision applicants has increased rapidly each year, reported by Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jonathan Burdick as “double-digit increases… for as long as I can remember.” This year’s Early Decision admission rate fell to 36% from last year’s 44% – an 18% decrease in admissions acceptances.
Despite the ever-growing length of college application season and the rising numbers of early applicants, however, applying early to your top choice school still offers a possible advantage. At Harvard, whose overall admission rate was 4.6% last year, the sliver of hope offered by the 13.4% Single-Choice Early Action admission rate is not to be ignored. Since many of the most selective schools use early applications to fill up to half of their first-year spots, showing your interest as an early applicant remains valuable.
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