With overall admissions rates in the single digits at many top schools, students applying to Ivy League universities and peer institutions seek out every edge that might increases their chances of acceptance to the college of their dreams. One of the best devices to increase admissions chances to the Ivies is applying to these schools through their early admissions plans.
Colleges will say that their early admit rates are higher due to the strength of their early applicant pools. Harvard, for example, says on their website that the school, ‘’does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Early Action pools.”
However, in the college admissions community, there is a strong sense that a competitive applicant can enhance their chance of admission by applying to an Ivy League university through an early admissions process. In fact, admissions rates for early applicants to an Ivy can be three or more times higher than Regular Decision applicants. For example, Columbia University last year admitted only 5.5% of students in the regular pool, but admitted 19.7% of their students Early Decision. Another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania admitted 7.3% of students applying Regular Decision, but accepted a significant 25.2% of Early Decision students!
Note that Regular Decision (RD) plans at the Ivy League schools (which generally have application deadlines of January 1st and notifications of admission decisions are made in late-March, early-April) offer advantages as well. You will have a greater amount of time to work on and complete your application, including writing and editing your essays, your teachers and counselors will be more familiar with you, and you may be able to demonstrate additional strong grades and/or extracurricular activities in the fall of senior year. But… you are giving up the much greater rate of acceptance had you applied early.
Even with the high admit rates, there are a number of both pros and cons when considering whether you should apply early to an Ivy League university. It’s important to first define the two types of early admissions plans utilized by various Ivies before making your final decision. Check back next week for our blog explaining the differences between each type of plan, and the pros and cons of utilizing them!