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9 months ago
Admissions Advice

Should I apply early decision?
Answered

I am really just wondering how impressive an application has to be to benefit from applying early to top schools.

I don’t have a good understanding of what differentiates between an application which has a higher chance when sent in early versus one which has a higher chance when sent in regular decision.

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Accepted Answer
9 months ago[edited]

In many instances, applying to ED can boost your chances of getting into a college because it shows you are committed to attending if accepted. Therefore I think if you are applying to say T50 to T250 colleges, anywhere from Syracuse or the University of Alabama, or any of the liberal arts colleges falling into that range, applying early may improve your odds significantly.

The benefit of applying ED to T20-T25 schools really doesn't give any non-hooked applicant a boost in chances. Why? Because at Ivys, Elites, and Top Liberal Arts colleges, the institutional priorities include in most cases giving preferential treatment to recruited athletes, legacies, children of faculty/staff, development candidates or children of donors, VIPs, dean's list (hand pick favors) and community service organizations like Questbridge and Posse.

So a top school like Columbia has 650 ED spots each year or 11.3% acceptance rate but 5/8ths to 2/3rds of the spots are already spoken for if you are hooked. If you are un-hooked and just a smart middle/upper middle-class kid applying the effective admit rate is most likely 3-4%, not 11%. So there is no statistical benefit of applying in a much tougher pool.

So unless you are the cream of the crop as an unhooked applicant, it is probably better to apply RD to T20-T25 schools because you can use the extra time to fine-tune your application plus you can shop around financial aid packages if you are offered multiple admissions. Whereas, if you are accepted ED to a school and you are not 100% happy with the Financial aid, you have to haggle with the college and that may or may not work out for you.

So the bottom line is ED has more value at less competitive colleges because they are a "buyer school" that has to balance the books and make money off of it's wealthier students. ED is not a great choice for T20-T25 schools unless you are "hooked" or the best student in your school applying to that college.

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