You might have heard people getting excited about early deadlines. Why the excitement? And why are colleges offering two or even three options for applying early in this pandemic year??? Read on!
Time Magazine found in 2013:
[W]hat most students and parents don’t realize is that schools have ulterior motives for offering early decision, and in many cases, it’s better for students to use nonbinding options like early action or to simply wait to apply at the regular time. Early decision, since it’s binding, allows schools to fill their classes with qualified students; it allows admissions committees to select the students that are in particular demand for their college and know those students will come. It also gives schools a higher yield rate (the percentage of students admitted to attend the school), which is often used as one of the ways to measure college selectivity and popularity. In short, it’s a tremendously useful tool for colleges and universities.
Early Decision is Common Among Top Colleges - and Why?
Seven years later, much of the above is still true - ED is still a “useful tool” for colleges. Let’s break out the main ideas: Early Decision helps colleges by 1) filling seats early, and also by 2) giving a higher rate of yield.
The overwhelming majority of top colleges offer various forms of early admissions which limit student choice by requiring exclusivity or commitment, or both. Indeed, among the top colleges in the United States, CalTech, MIT, and UCLA stand out because they do not require exclusivity when you apply. In other words, they want people who want to be COMMITTED to them. And that is how they fill many of the seats of their freshman classes.
Types of Early Application Deadlines
The one that gets the most attention is Early Decision. This form of admissions requires that you promise to attend if you are accepted and that you are ONLY applying under an Early Decision option to that single school. Basically, it is like a wedding engagement - to a college. You can only make a proposal to one! In return, you receive an early decision from the college. Commonly, this looks like so: you apply ED by November 1st, and receive a decision from the college by mid-December. This is much faster than the normal “regular decision” cycle of applying in January and receiving notification months and months later.
Early Decision’s Cousin, Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA)
SCEA is non-binding and exclusive (meaning you can only apply to ONE such school) and you'll get your decision earlier; typically this is something a private college will offer, and does not interfere with applications to public colleges/universities as long as those are non-binding. Restricted Early Action (REA) is the same as SCEA; some schools use the term “restricted” instead of “single-choice.”
Rankings and “Yield” Rate
One of the reasons colleges love ED is that it boosts their yield rates, meaning, the rate at which applicants actually enroll in their institutions.
The higher the freshman registration rate, the more attractive the university is to students. It is a core indicator of university admissions. No matter how big the university is, if they do not have a high enough yield rate, they will recruit either too many or not enough. Not having enough students is definitely fatal for the admissions office. The yield rates of UC Berkeley is around 40%, while top schools like Harvard can reach 80%.
The ED admission policy to a large extent establishes much of the school’s yield rate. Students admitted at this stage will definitely come to school, which gives the admissions office confidence - because the option is binding - typically they ask you only break the agreement in the event of a medical problem. Therefore, the ED admission rate of almost all schools is higher than the total admission rate.
Early Admissions Strategies for You
Is it that easy? Should everyone apply early? Of course, from the applicant's perspective, EA/ED is one of the application strategies. If applicants set their goals properly, they can successfully sprint to the previously “impossible” schools to receive offers early.
Especially this year, the epidemic has caused financial crises for many universities. The enrollment task of this year's admissions office is more stress-inducing than any previous year! Therefore, the ED policy that guarantees the enrollment rate of new students will play a greater role.
But at the same time, everyone should keep in mind that the students applying for ED are often the strongest group. If the overall competitiveness of the applicant does not exceed the average profile that a college is seeking, it is not recommended to apply for ED. Matching yourself to the schools where you will receive the best chances is something you will want to research thoroughly.
Fall 2020: One, Two - or even Three Early Deadlines
We’re including a handy list of selective schools with early deadlines. It’s worth noting that this year, some schools are increasing the number of early options they are offering.
This year, there many selective schools offering Early Decision II options, on top of Early Decision or Early Action - see bolded options below. That means that they know you might be applying somewhere else for Early Decision I, getting a response in mid-December, and are still seeking commitments in January.
It is well worth your time to really research your college list well and carefully consider if you want to apply early, and if so, what your options will be.
Notable October Deadlines
University of Georgia: 10/15 EA
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: 10/15 EA
Boston College: 11/1 for ED I and 1/1 for ED II
Brandeis University: 11/1 for ED I and 1/1 for ED II
Brown University: 11/1 ED I
California Institute of the Arts: 12/2 for Preferred Deadline
California Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA
Carnegie Mellon University: 11/1 ED
Chapman University: 11/1 for EA and 11/1 for ED
University of Chicago: 11/2 for EA, 11/2 for ED
Clark University: 11/1 EA, 11/1 ED, and 1/15 ED II
Colorado College: 11/1 EA, 11/1 ED, and 1/15 ED II
Columbia University: 11/1 ED
Dartmouth University: 11/1 ED
University of Denver: 11/1 for EA and 11/1 for ED
Drexel University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
Duke University: 11/16 ED
Emory University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II
University of Florida: Regular Decision is 11/1
Fordham University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
Georgetown University: 11/1 EA
Georgia Institute of Technology: 11/2 for non-Georgia residents
Harvard University: 11/1 EA
Johns Hopkins University: 11/1 ED I, 1/4 ED II
Loyola Marymount University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
University of Massachusetts at Amherst: 11/5 EA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA
Miami University: 12/1 EA and 12/1 ED
University of Michigan: 11/15 EA
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: 11/1 EA
Northeastern University: 11/1 ED, 1/1 ED II
Northwestern University: 11/1 ED
University of Notre Dame: 11/1 REA
Oregon State University: 11/1 EA
University of Oregon: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
New York University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II
Pennsylvania State University: 11/1 EA
University of Pennsylvania: 11/1 ED
Pepperdine University: 11/1 EA
[Princeton is suspending its Early Decision deadline, instead of moving to only to a Regular Decision on 1/1]
Reed College: 11/15 for EA, 11/1 for EDI and 12/20 for ED II
Rice University: 11/1 ED
University of Rochester: 11/1 for ED I, 1/5 for ED II
Rose Hulman Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA
University of San Francisco: 11/1 EA
Santa Clara University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
[University of Southern California does not offer ED nor EA options]
Stanford University: 11/1 REA
Tufts University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II
Tulane University: 11/1 ED, 11/15 EA
Wake Forest University: 11/15 ED I, 1/1 ED II
University of Washington: Regular Decision 11/15
Washington University of Saint Louis: 11/1 ED I, 1/2 ED II
College of William & Mary: 11/1 ED I and 1/1 ED II
University of Wisconsin at Madison: 11/1 EA
Worchester Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA
Vanderbilt University: 11/1 ED, 1/1 ED II
University of Virginia: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED
Yale University: SCEA 11/1
We offer you this information so that you can make your decisions with open eyes. This pandemic year brings particular challenges for many - that includes families and colleges alike. How you fit into this picture is something you can give serious thought. There will be opportunities for those who can proceed methodically and strategically this application season.