Decision day on Early Decision is November 1

By Lee Shulman Bierer

Many students have either just made or will be making the big decision whether or not to apply Early Decision (ED) within the next few days. November 1 at 11:59 pm is the official deadline for most colleges and universities with an ED application option.

Early Decision is binding; that means that the student, the parent and the guidance counselor have all agreed that if the student is accepted, they will attend. ED comes with some nice perks – the two biggest advantages are 1) Early notification – students apply early (by November 1) and are notified early – typically by December 15, and 2) Boost in acceptance rate – with just a little bit of research you can find out the acceptance rate for students in regular decision and compare it with those applying ED. You might be surprised. ED acceptance rates at some schools, even some of the most selective colleges and universities, can be double the regular acceptance rates.

Two colleagues, Jennie Kent (Bogota, Colombia) and Jeff Levy (Santa Monica, CA), have researched and compiled The “Early Decision and Regular Decision Acceptance Rates (2018)” chart, which is  distributed annually.  It can be downloaded as a pdf (better for printing) or an Excel file (better for sorting) here:   http://www.personalcollegeadmissions.com/early-decision.

Here are some highlights and a few interesting examples:

NAME OF COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: COLUMN # 1

EARLY DECISION (ED) ACCEPTANCE RATE: COLUMN # 2

REGULAR DECISION (RD) ACCEPTANCE RATE: COLUMN # 3

PERCENT OF CLASS FILLED ED: COLUMN # 4

ED TO RD ACCEPTANCE RATIO: COLUMN # 5

#1                                              #2               #3                 #4              #5

Bates College                           48%             18%            71%            2.7

Brown University                    22%                7%             42%            3.1

Claremont McKenna C.         31%                7%             59%             4.5

Davidson College                    45%              17%            61%            2.7

Duke University                      25%               8%            49%              3.0

Elon University                       82%             65%            24%              1.5

Middlebury College                48%             14%            64%              3.5

Northwestern University       27%               7%             54%              3.7

University of Pennsylvania   22%               7%             55%              3.1

Those are some powerful numbers.

What questions do you need to ask before you make the ED choice?

  1. ACADEMIC FIT: Are you satisfied with the amount of research you’ve done to make a four-year commitment to this school? Have you visited the college? More than once? Have you chatted with students? Have you spent sufficient time on the college website understanding the academic offerings? Do you think you’re competitive academically, i.e., do you think you’d have to struggle to keep up with the other students in class?
  2. SOCIAL FIT: Is the college what you would consider a good distance from home? Are you sure you’ll love the climate? Is it the right size (not too big, not too small)? Is the emphasis on sports, greek life, diversity, arts/culture, etc. right for you? Do you like the surrounding area; is it enough to keep you entertained or is it too overwhelming?
  3. FINANCIAL FIT: If you apply Early Decision and are accepted, will you be able to attend if you are not offered any financial aid? If the answer is “no,” then you probably should reconsider applying ED since you need to withdraw your other applications if you are accepted.

Big decision.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com

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