Friday, November 30, 2012

Is applying Early advantageous?

It's a common question my students and parents ask.

Is there a decisive advantage to applying into a binding Early Decision application pool?

My answer hasn't changed...yet.

And that is.

"It depends."

It depends on the school.

Take Elon, for example.

They admitted 86% last year through their Early Decision program.

Elon only admitted 51% in their Regular admission program.

That's a 35% difference of advantage.

Here is an example where applying Early Decision is like turning in your "Selectivity Coupon". 

By applying Early Decision, you give the college what they want - a 100% yield guarantee. 

The college gives you want you want - better odds to get in.

 Take the University of Pennsylvania as another example.

You can see the difference accented here between ED and Regular admission pools.

Fewer applications in ED (4,526).

More admitted (1,148).

And almost half the chairs are filled (43%).

The other major factor involves the difference between who a student is applying against in Early versus Regular admission.

In Early Decision it is only against other ED applicants to Penn.

In Regular admission, it is against applicants who may have also applied SCEA and Regular admission to Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

Quantity and quality both go thru the roof!

Vanderbilt is an example of this.

A 30-32 ACT score may make the cut in Early Decision at Vanderbilt.

But it won't in Regular admission.

33-35 is the cut line. (unless your student has a hook - athlete, legacy, international. 1st gen, diversity, etc.)

Why is this?

Quality of the applicant.

Ivy admits or Ivy admissible defers/denies are bringing stronger credentials to the applicant pool.

Now having said that, in an article released this week, NACAC statistics show that there is still a slight advantage to applying into an Early Decision program, citing that 59% overall are admitted through ED programs versus 53% through Regular programs.

So that's a 6% advantage...but that % continues to decline as more students are trying to gain an advantage by applying Early Decision.

It sounds like soon there will be no real advantage statistically wise.

And the hard truth is that 90% of the time at the Ivy-level, it really doesn't matter which pool you apply into if you don't have a hook.  Unhooked students (legacy, athlete, international, 1st gen, student of color, etc.) with the same credentials as the hooked kids are going to lose out almost every time.

In the end, I never counsel a student to apply into an Early Decision program for strategic purposes.

Only best college fit purposes.

If there is a fit - go for it!

But have a Plan B.

And maybe a Plan C.