2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does early admission actually increase your odds?

Everyone always talks about early admission, does it actually help you get picked? What are the benefits of early admission? Does it cost more?

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Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

Hi @Mirandac,

There have been a lot of posts and misconceptions about applying early. I'm here to help you and others clarify the positives and negatives so you can make an informed decision.

For some early admission like applying ED or EA does increase your odds for others, not at all.

At Ivy League schools, Elite colleges like Stanford or top Liberal arts colleges like Pomona, Swarthmore, Williams, applying early primarily helps ALDC applicants and those applying through a community service organizations like Questbridge and Posse, which help high achieving low income, first generation students get matched into top 50 colleges.

What are ALDC applicants?

A - Stands for 'recruited athletes. Almost all of these colleges recruit athletes to play varsity sports. Today I read an article about preferential treatment of RAs at my future school Columbia University. Columbia has 802 RAs. Of these 457 were recruited from Private HSs and Boarding schools and 345 came from Public schools. There is a disproportionate amount of private recruits because those schools offer niche sports like fencing, heaving rowing, squash, badminton and sailing while public schools only offer the main sports like basketball, football, track and XC. Almost all recruited athletes are encouraged to apply early because coaches at the schools want their roster filled ASAP.

L - Stands for legacies. Most top schools have legacy admissions and sometimes the admit rate is 10X higher for a legacy versus a non legacy applicant. This boost is evident at heavy legacy schools like Harvard, Yale and Brown. Schools like UPenn, actually require legacies to apply early if they are going to maximize their admissions boost.

D - Stands for Development candidate. Development candidates are sons/daughers of extremely wealthy families who have lined the pockets of the colleges they are applying to prior to applying. This is not limited just to private colleges, schools like UCLA and UCBerkeley have development applicants as well. For a billionaire silicon valley executive or an East Coast Forbes 400 member, donating $2-5 million dollars a year to an Ivy or UCLA for 2-4 years prior to their kid applying to these schools greatly increases the admissions probabilities. There is no guarantee of course which is what all of them say in public, but I find it highly doubtful that Cornell would turn down $10mm to admit a development kid from mainland China.

C - Stands for Child of faculty/admin. Some have coined this term "fac-brats". Fac-Brats do not make up a large application pool, say 10-50 applicants depending on the size of college. But they get a huge boost, especially if the parent is a tenured professor or someone that holds a "Chair" or is a Department head.

So here's the math drill. If Harvard's SCREA admit rate is 7.9% and their overall admit rate is 3.19% (and RD rate of 2.3%), most people would conclude that the boost from applying early is around 3.5X. However if you include all the ALDC applicants, they might make up 340 out of the 740 admits during the early cycle. So the admit rate for non-ALDC applicants might be 400/9406 which is like 4.25%. So it's still nearly 2X better than applying RD but not a big number. That means a non ALDC applicant has 95.75% chance of being rejected or deferred.

Other colleges like Georgetown have a inverse early decision rate compared to regular decision. This past cycle GTown accepted 10% ED and accepted 12% RD. So you had a 20% bump applying to Georgetown RD. Intuitively that makes no sense.

Students who should not apply early are the following -

-If you are not satisfied with your grades and GPA and feel you could use another semester of grades to improve your stats, do not apply early.

-If you are not satisfied with your SAT or ACT test scores and feel you could use another semester of test taking to improve your stats, do not apply early.

-If you are not satisfied with your ECs, like leadership roles and feel you could use another semester to improve your EC narrative, do not apply early.

-If you are not satisfied with your "spike" activity or IV/IC (Intellectual Vitality/Intellectual Curiosity, and feel you could use another semester to improve your narrative, do not apply early.

-If you are not satisfied with your college essays and supplemental essay, and feel you could use another semester to improve your writing, do not apply early.

-If you 100% sure about making an ED commitment to a singular college, and feel you could use another semester to research schools and visit them, do not apply early.

-If you need a lot of financial aid, do not apply early because in many cases, whatever you are awarded as a result of your ED application is not going to change. So if you needed a full tuition scholarship and receive $20,000 instead of $60,000, you'll be in a jam. You will have to work with finaid office and ask them to relieve you of your admission based on lack of ability to pay. That will suck the wind out of you, even though you will be able to apply to more schools.

The only benefits for applying ED/EA for non-ALDC applicants, is the following:

-You can stop worrying about where you are going to college if you get in. You are done if you are accepted ED. And have a big bird in the bag if you are admitted EA and can apply to more schools if you want to.

-You can use your time to be a senior and focus on things you'd rather be doing like your ECs or Sports or more social aspects of HS. Some students use this extra time to apply for supplemental private scholarships. And others get a part time job to start saving up for fall semester.

The cost for applying ED or EA is exactly the same as applying RD.

I hope this gave you the answer you were looking for.

Good luck.

2 years ago

Early admission is advantageous because you already have an enrollment guarantee and you don't have to wait longer than usual. Depending on the university, probably, there is a price.

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