Did you know that there are two Ivy League universities that have more than a 20% admit rate? We know that many of you are trying to get into college, and in that process, you’re confronting a lot of admission rates. We’re here to tell you that a lot of those admission rates are totally useless. We’re going to talk about the admission rates that you’re actually facing when you apply, so that you can make a smart decision about where you might apply early.
Brooke has gathered data on the top 50 universities in the United States as well as the top 20 ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S., and we’re going to go through a couple of different lists in this blog.
The first list is a list of colleges where there’s an incredibly huge advantage to applying early decision, meaning you double your chance of admissions statistically if you apply early decision instead of regular decision. At the top of this list is Grinnell College, which is a liberal arts college. If you apply early decision, you have a 57.7% chance of admission, while their general admission rate is 9.2% and their regular admission rate is 8.2%. Basically, if you tell Grinnell College that they are the college you want to go to, you’re over a coin-flip chance of getting in. When you see the general admission rate, remember that it’s not the full story. Just like you’re playing this crazy game trying to get into an amazing college, colleges are playing a crazy game trying to prove that they are amazing colleges. And the way that they often do that is by getting on the rankings lists of U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, etc.
Next on our list is Dartmouth College. Did you know that you can have over a 25% chance of getting into Dartmouth if you apply early-decision? Crazy, right? If you want to go to an Ivy League school, apply to Dartmouth ED, because it gives you a huge advantage. Continuing down our list, we have Colby College, Northwestern, Williams College, and Tulane University.
A little sidebar on Tulane: the data actually doesn’t tell the whole story. Tulane has three early plans on decision: Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Early Action. The statistics we have are just for the Early Decision plan, and you can see that there’s a 4x advantage over early action and regular decision. Not only that, but Tulane only admitted 106 students out of a class of 1800 via regular decision.That means that 94% of enrolled students either applied early action or early decision. So for Tulane, it’s super important to apply either early decision or early action, or you probably aren’t going to get in.
Moving on, at Bowdoin College, you’ve got a 4x chance of getting in, and at Columbia University and Barnard College, your odds go up by four times if you apply early. Brown, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Duke, Hamilton, University of Pennsylvania, Claremont McKenna, Wesleyan, Cornell, Amherst, Davidson, Vanderbilt, Washington and Lee, Wellesley, University of Miami, Boston College, Pomona College, Emory University, University of Virginia, Smith College, Rice University, and New York University all give you at least double the chance of getting in if you apply early. But that’s still not the whole story because some of these schools are like baskets that catch really top performers that thought they were going to go to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, or Yale, and don’t get into those. If you think you can get into Harvard or Stanford, and you have some wow-factor, perfect grades, and perfect GPA, chances are that you’re not going to ED at NYU. So those top-performing students are more likely to roll the dice and try to get into that top college and leave NYU for the second round.
And it’s probable that the NYU early pool is actually weaker than its regular decision pool, because the regular decision pool has a dump of all the kids who didn’t get into Harvard or Stanford or Yale but are still really great candidates. So when you add that into the mix, the advantage of applying early is actually understated for any universities that aren’t ranked in the top 10 or ones that don’t tend to be dream schools. Once you get out of those top schools, any of these statistics are going to be understated for the colleges that tend to be one notch below the Ivy League schools.
So to tell the full story, there’s another metric we’re going to put into use here, and that is basically the percentage of freshmen on campus that came from the early decision pool divided by the total number of students enrolled in that freshman class. So when we sort by that metric, the top of the list is Notre Dame. The percentage we get when we divide the number of students admitted ED by the number of students enrolled in their freshman year is 81.4%. That means that even though it looks like you only have a 1.3 ED over RD advantage at Notre Dame, if you want to go to that college, you really should be applying early because they’re filling 80% of their class before they even get to the regular decision pool. And yes, they do let in RD people at a 13.5% admit rate, but those people are probably ones that slipped through the cracks at Princeton, Harvard, etc.
NYU is also high on the list, with a 66.9% early decision to enrollment ratio. And NYU is also a huge fall-off university; they catch all the kids with amazing stats that thought they could get into Princeton. So if you don’t have those crazy stats but you’re looking at general admission rates and you think NYU should be a target, it’s probably a target if you apply early and might not be a target if you apply regular decision. Our point is that a third of competitive colleges fill over half of their classes with early admits.
We know that some of you are nervous about applying ED because you need crazy financial aid. The one that you can get out of ED is by saying you can’t afford it, and if that’s a real issue, apply for financial aid and make it known to that college in case they’re need-aware instead of need-blind. And if they come back with the aid package and it’s not high enough, you are allowed to reject it and allowed to negotiate. It’s true that you can’t compare aid offers and won’t necessarily be able to leverage them against each other, but you can leverage them against yourself and your limits.
We hope you guys enjoyed this blog and found it helpful, and make sure to check out all the resources we have on our website!
The following schools do not have data available for these metrics: Princeton, Stanford, University of Chicago, Wake Forest University, Johns Hopkins University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Yeshiva University, and Stevens Institute of Technology.
Early Decision vs Regular Decision Advantage
|College||ED %||RD % (may include non binding EA when applicable)||ED/RD Advantage||ED/Enrolled %|
|University of Pennsylvania||14.9||4.4||3.4||48.9|
|Notre Dame (EA- restricted)||17.3||13.5||1.3||81.4|
|Carnegie Mellon University||19.9||12.9||1.5||31.2|
|Tufts University (2019 Data)||26.0||13.6||1.9||37.0|
|New York University||27.8||13.8||2.0||66.9|
|Claremont McKenna College||28.8||8.8||3.3||55.9|
|Washington University in St. Louis||29.2||11.0||2.7||55.5|
|Loyola Marymount University||33.3||46.3||0.7||15.4|
|Case Western Reserve University||35.8||30.1||1.2||19.8|
|University of Denver||37.6||64.0||0.6||8.3|
|University of Virginia||43.7||19.6||2.2||24.7|
|University of Rochester||45.0||40.2||1.1||37.2|
|Washington and Lee University||48.2||16.1||3.0||56.6|
|William & Mary||49.1||35.6||1.4||34.5|
|Texas Christian University||52.7||53.7||1.0||15.9|
|Southern Methodist University||54.9||53.1||1.0||22.3|
|University of Miami||64.7||27.1||2.4||35.4|
|George Washington University||65.5||49.1||1.3||25.1|
|Santa Clara University||83.8||53.1||1.6||26.0|