A Defense of Early Decision

Early Decision, Early Decision Merits, Merits of Early Decision

There is an editorial in “The Dartmouth Review” that speaks to the merits of Early Decision policies.

There was an article yesterday in “The Dartmouth Review,” the conservative student publication at Dartmouth College once led by the likes of Laura Ingraham and Dinish D’Souza (they were once engaged) that essentially serves as a defense of Early Decision. Of course, the most often cited case against the merits of Early Decision policies at universities across America is that such policies favor the privileged. As Devon Kurtz writes for “The Dartmouth Review,” “The most often discussed issue with early-decision is that it notoriously favors students from prep schools, the Northeast, athletically competitive high schools, and wealthier backgrounds, as well as students with parents who are alumni. Early-decision, and its ‘benefit’ of a higher acceptance rate, seems to favor the already privileged students, while lower income students from adverse backgrounds and lower tier high schools battle it out in the fiercely competitive regular decision round of admission.”

But this, of course, is a fallacy. Admissions officers at highly selective colleges like Dartmouth College are seeking underprivileged students in the Early Decision round just as they’re looking for them in the Regular Decision round. It’s not like in the months of November and December, first-generation college applicants and students from low-income families aren’t of interest to admissions officers — that their interest only peaks in January, February, and March. Admissions officers covet these students in Early Decision just as they do in Regular Decision and any suggestion otherwise is, well, ridiculous. Are there a lot of recruited athletes in the Early Decision round? Are there a lot of legacies? You bet. But there are privileged students in the Regular Decision round too and this doesn’t change the fact that colleges are always, always searching for geographic diversity, ethnic diversity, socio-economic diversity…you name it.

If the argument is that not enough underprivileged students apply in the Early round, well, that’s not a knock on the policy. That just means that awareness needs to be raised about the benefits of applying Early — including the significantly higher acceptance rates. So many low-income students choose not to apply Early because they don’t know of these benefits, because they lack strong college counseling, because they’re under the misimpression that there’s this great benefit in the Regular Decision round that you can weigh various financial aid offers. It’s a misimpression because you can figure out what kind of financial aid you’re going to receive from a given institution before you even apply — through the Net Price Calculator. So why do you need to wait to weigh financial aid offers? The argument is unsound.

And so is the argument that Early decision favors the wealthy. As Kurtz writes, “The benefits of early-decision speak for themselves: lower acceptance rates, more loyal students, higher four-year retention rate, lower transfer acceptance rate.” Early Decision doesn’t favor the wealthy. It favors the students who are willing to commit. It favors the students who are willing to show their love for a university.                    

Princeton Class of 2021

Princeton 2021, 2021 at Princeton, Princeton University 2021

A piece in “The Daily Princetonian” highlights the makeup of the incoming Princeton Class of 2021.

In a banner year for Princeton University, the school admitted just 6.1% of applicants to its Class of 2021. In all, 31,056 students applied for admission to Princeton University this year, while 1,890 were offered the chance to be Tigers. Princeton is anticipating a class size of approximately 1,308 students — or about a 69% matriculation rate based on matriculate rates at Princeton from years past. As they say, the best predictor of future performance is past performance so schools are usually fairly accurate with their anticipated matriculation rates (though rainy days on admitted students’ weekends can have a negative influence, as but one example).

As reports Audrey Spensley for “The Daily Princetonian,” “50.5 percent of admitted applicants are women and 49.5 percent are men, representing a higher percentage of admitted women than in previous years. Additionally, 47.3 percent of the 24.1 percent of students who applied under the B.S.E program were women. Nearly 20 percent of the students offered admission will be the first in their families to attend college, the largest number in recent memory. Students were admitted from 49 states and 76 countries, with 12.1 percent of admitted students coming from countries besides the U.S. The most-represented states were New Jersey, California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, and Georgia, in order. The only state not represented is Montana. Students were also admitted from Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. Of the admitted students, 63.8 percent attended public schools. The University press release also noted that over half of admitted applicants self-identify as ‘people of color, including biracial and multiracial students.’ Additionally, nearly 11 percent of admitted students are children of University alumni.”

We like that nearly 20% of admitted students will be the first in their families to attend college — that’s very cool indeed! Highly selective colleges like Princeton covet their first-generation college students. And as for Princeton admitting students from 49 states, you can bet that if a student had a pulse in that 50th state, Princeton would have likely offered the student admission. Colleges love to brag that they have students in their incoming class from all 50 states. 49 is close…but no cigar.

A big congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who were offered admission to the Princeton Class of 2021! And, while you’re here, read about the Early Action round at Princeton for the Class of 2021.


Yale NUS, Yale NUS College, Yale in Singapore

Students who graduate from Yale-NUS College in Singapore do not graduate with a degree from Yale University.

Yale-NUS College, which is based in Singapore, recently reported that its admission rate — not for the Class of 2021 but for the Class of 2020 (hey, they’re a bit behind with their announcements…it takes a while for word to travel from Singapore maybe?) stood at 5%. In all, students in the Yale-NUS Class of 2020 hail from 20 countries. Leading the pack is — naturally — Singapore. A number of students also hail from the United States, India, and China.

A parent recently reached out to us and let us know that his child got into Yale and will be attending Yale. He then added that the student will be attending Yale-NUS. And while we hate to burst bubbles, that is not Yale. It is not a Yale degree. It is not a Yale education. It’s not like you attend Yale-NUS for a year and can then attend and graduate from Yale. While we had students admitted to Yale-NUS College this year, not one confused Yale-NUS College with Yale University. The two are not the same. A degree from this school in Singapore is not a degree from an Ivy League school. Bursting bubbles, we know.

As reports Ishaan Srivastava for “The Yale Daily News” in a piece about Yale-NUS, “Though it was established as an autonomous college within the National University of Singapore, Yale-NUS does not follow the practice of NUS in releasing an indication of the grade profiles for the majority of applicants admitted in the previous academic year. A section of the admissions website devoted to frequently asked questions states that there is no ‘magical set of courses, grades, essay topics and accomplishments that will guarantee admission to Yale-NUS College.'”

Brown University Letter

Brown Letter, Brown University Admission Letter, Brown Letter to Students

A letter sent out by the Brown admissions office has made the news (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

It’s no secret that America’s universities tend to be liberal. And it’s no secret that the Ivy League universities are among the most liberal of the bunch. Does that mean that these institutions don’t seek out opposing viewpoints? They certainly do. Admissions officers at Ivy League colleges are drawn to students who will contribute to the diversity of their institutions — and that absolutely does include diversity of thought. Yes, they even seek out students with conservative viewpoints. We see some of you folks shaking your heads. But they sure do.

Recently, a piece in “The Wall Street Journal” by James Freeman highlighted a letter that Brown University’s Dean of Admissions Logan Powell sent to an admitted student, as reported by “The Brown Daily Herald.” As Freeman writes, “Among those lucky few is the daughter of a Journal reader who is still trying to make sense of a letter the family received this week from Mr. Powell. Our reader’s bright daughter had already received news of her acceptance when a letter arrived that was addressed to her ‘Parent/Guardian.’ Oddly, the note referred to the accepted student not as ‘she’ but as ‘they.’ Dean Powell’s letter also stated that our reader’s daughter had no doubt worked hard and made positive contributions to ‘their’ school and community. Our reader reports that his perplexed family initially thought that Brown had made a word-processing error. That was before they listened to a voice mail message from the school congratulating his daughter and referring to her as ‘them.'”

We’re truly not sure where we stand on this letter. On the one hand, we absolutely applaud universities that make their campuses more inclusive in embracing trans students. Universities across the United States can and must do more to make their campuses more welcoming to all members of the LGBTQ community. Perhaps Dean Powell wrote the letter in this way so as not to have to “find and replace” all the pronouns depending on if the admitted student is male or female (though the voicemail seems to contradict this theory). We always find that cumbersome when folks reach out to us about their sons or daughters. ‘They’ does seem easier. It leaves less room for error, especially when we’re not sure about the student’s gender based on the name alone. But we also see the point that it’s a bit extreme to apply this rule to all students — including the vast majority of students who have always identified with their gender. In a way, it’s kind of a way of Brown — historically the most liberal of the Ivies — saying that we’re a liberal school, get with the program or maybe Brown isn’t for you. And that’s not exactly shouting out that Brown values diversity of opinion. But maybe we’re wrong. Your thoughts?

Or maybe the Brown admissions office has just been watching a whole lot of “Billions” lately, a show that features a fascinating character who prefers to identify by the pronoun ‘they’?

Brown Class of 2021

Brown 2021, 2021 at Brown, Brown University Admission

It was a banner year for the Brown University admissions office (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

In the Regular Decision round, 2,027 students were offered admission to Brown University to be members of the Brown Class of 2021. It was a banner year for the Providence, Rhode Island-based university with a Regular Decision admit rate of 6.5% and an overall admit rate of 8.3% (including Early Decision). This 8.3% admit rate surpasses the previous record of 8.5% set for the Brown Class of 2019. And how many students were placed on the Brown waitlist so those students have an idea of what they’re up against? About 1,000.

As reports Sarah Wang for “The Brown Daily Herald” in a piece about the Brown University Class of 2021, “The admitted students come from all 50 states and 77 countries, with 12 percent of admitted students coming from outside of the United States. Fourteen percent of the admitted students are first generation students, a slightly higher percentage than last year, [Dean of Admission Logan] Powell said. Forty-seven percent of admitted students self-identify as students of color, the same percentage admitted for the class of 2020. Additionally, sixty-two percent of admitted students come from public high schools, an increase from last year, according to Powell. The University also admitted a slightly higher percentage of students who indicated they would apply for financial aid — 64 percent of students compared to 61 percent last year.”

Congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who earned admission to Brown University to be members of the Brown Class of 2021! And we hope you’re looking forward to A Day on College Hill next week. It’s a great chance to figure out if Brown is for you. We hope you love it.

UPenn Class of 2021

UPenn 2021, Penn 2021, University of Pennsylvania Class of 2021

A piece in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” offers insight into the UPenn Class of 2021.

The University of Pennsylvania has announced its Class of 2021. And the school has reason to brag. Benjamin Franklin’s university boasts its lowest admission rate in history — at 9.15%. This 9.15% admission rate bests the university’s 9.4% admission rate for the UPenn Class of 2020. In all, 40,413 students applied for admission to the University of Pennsylvania and 3,699 were offered admission.

With a 22% Early Decision admit rate for the Class of 2021 at the University of Pennsylvania, we encourage students who love UPenn above all other schools to heed our advice if you wish to be members of the UPenn Class of 2021 — do apply Early Decision. And where do most admits to the University of Pennsylvania hail from? No surprise here. Pennsylvania, New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas claim the prize. It’s not like we were expecting Arkansas to make an appearance in that list. Sorry, Arkansas.

As reports Brian Zhong for “The Daily Pennsylvanian” in a piece about the UPenn Class of 2021, “Fifty-four percent of the overall class is female, a higher proportion than the 52 percent of the current Penn undergraduate body who are women. Meanwhile, the number of international applications rose by 10 percent, and accepted students call 94 countries home. Members of the Class of 2021 currently attend 2,145 different high schools…Fourteen percent of admitted students have a parent or grandparent who attended Penn, and 13 percent will be the first in their families to go to college. Forty-six percent of the class who are U.S. citizens identified themselves as students of color. This year, Penn has offered 90 percent of the applicant pool the opportunity to engage in an interview with one of over 9,200 Penn alumni spanning the Classes of 1951 to 2016.”

So to all those parents who get all excited that their children got interviews, we hate to dampen your excitement but we encourage you to read that last sentence again. Almost everyone gets an interview. Getting or not getting an interview is no indication of your standing in admissions. It’s about whether they have available alumni to conduct interviews in your area. And that’s really it.

Congratulations to our students who will be members of the UPenn Class of 2021!

Yale University Class of 2021

Yale 2021, Yale University 2021, 2021 at Yale

A piece in “The Yale Daily News” offers insight into the Yale University Class of 2021.

Yale University has announced its Class of 2021, offering admission to a mere 6.9% of applicants to the school this year (this statistic includes the Early Action and Regular Decision admissions cycles). As previously planned, the Class of 2021 will be the largest first-year class in the history of Yale University — because the school has opened two new residential colleges that it needs to fill. In all, 32,900 students applied for admission to the New Haven, Connecticut-based school, while only 2,272 were offered admission.

As reports Luke Ciancarelli for “The Yale Daily News” in a piece entitled “Yale admits 6.9 percent of applicants,” “According to a statement from the Admissions Office, students admitted to the class of 2021 come from all 50 states and 68 countries, graduating from more than 1,500 secondary schools around the world. This admissions cycle continued the trend of the past several years, as the proportion of applicants and admitted students who identify as members of underrepresented groups has steadily increased. In addition to the 2,272 students who were accepted, another 1,181 students were offered a spot on the waiting list. As in years past, the Admissions Office is unsure if it will be able to make any offers to students on the waiting list, which is unranked.”

If you’re a student on the Yale University waitlist, doing nothing is not the answer. Boasting about your accomplishments in a letter to the Yale University admissions office is also not the answer. We help students every year earn admission off waitlists at schools like Yale. And so much of it comes down to approaching the waitlist the right way.

Congratulations to our students who will be members of the Yale University Class of 2021!

The Dartmouth Class of 2021

Dartmouth 2021, 2021 at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College 2021

An article in America’s oldest college newspaper offers insight into Dartmouth’s Class of 2021.

The College on the Hill offered 2,092 students admission to its Class of 2021 this Regular Decision admissions cycle. These 2,092 students were among the 20,034 students who applied for admission subsequent to the Early Decision round. This means that only 10.4% of applicants to Dartmouth received offers of admission, marking the lowest admission rate for the Hanover, New Hampshire-based university since 2013.

And how does Dartmouth’s Class of 2021 break down? Cut to the annual press release. As reports “The Dartmouth” in a piece about the incoming Class of 2021 at Dartmouth, “Ninety-six percent of accepted students from high schools that rank their students are expected to graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. Of the accepted students, 547 are currently ranked as the valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school class, which is a 25 percent increase from the accepted students in the Class of 2020 and an all-time high for admissions at the College.”

“California is the most represented home state, followed by New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida. The group includes 255 students from 63 foreign countries, a 38 percent increase from the accepted students in the Class of 2020 and the largest cohort of international students ever, another all-time high for admissions at the College. Of international students’ home countries, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Korea are the most represented. Fifty-one percent of accepted students from the U.S. are students of color, which continues a trend from last year in which 51.6 of accepted students from the Class of 2020 were of color, then the most racially diverse class in the College’s history.”

And Dartmouth, like all highly selective colleges loves its first-generation students. 15% of those admitted to the College on the Hill as members of the Dartmouth Class of 2021 will be the first in their families to attend college. Impressive indeed. This 15% statistic compares to a 9% legacy statistic — 9% of those admitted are the progeny of Dartmouth College graduates. Not as impressive. Hey, our regular readers know we have a habit of adding our two cents. Or six cents for that matter.

Congratulations to our students who will be members of the Dartmouth Class of 2021! Many of you are headed to Hanover in the coming days to visit. Do enjoy a breakfast at Lou’s. And a hike to The Firetower if it isn’t too cold.

Admission Statistics

Admission Stats, Admissions Statistics, College Admission Statistics

We’ve got preliminary admission statistics for the Class of 2021 at the Ivy League institutions.

We repeat this line over and over again at this time of year. It’s a line by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Nobody keeps more extensive data on Ivy League admission statistics than we do at Ivy Coach but we’re also the first to tell our students and parents to read these statistics always with six or seven healthy grains of salt. But let’s be more specific. A parent recently asserted to us, “Stanford was more competitive to get into than Harvard this year. Stanford had a 4.7% admission rate, whereas Harvard had a 5.2% admission rate.”

This assertion, based strictly on an admission rate, just doesn’t hold water for us. Just because tons of students applied — that doesn’t mean an applicant pool is more competitive. More ‘C’ students applying doesn’t make it more difficult to get into Stanford. Not that lots of ‘C’ students applied to Stanford this year. We’re using an extreme example so you see how the more applicants a school receives and the lower the admission rate a school boasts doesn’t — in itself — mean the school is more difficult than in years past to get into. In fact, in spite of Stanford’s 4.7% admission rate and Harvard’s 5.2% admission rate, we would argue that Harvard was more difficult than Stanford to get into this year. And not the other way around.

As our regular readers know, at Ivy Coach, we have more students earn admission to Stanford each year than any other university, which we understand is ironic since we’re Ivy Coach and Stanford is not an Ivy League school. But we help students earn admission to all highly selective colleges. Including the Ivy League colleges. Including Stanford University.

So, sure, peruse those admission statistics. You bet it’s hard to get into Stanford. And Harvard. Is it more difficult to get into Stanford or Harvard than three years ago? Not necessarily. Was it more difficult to get into Stanford this year than Harvard because the university boasted a lower admission rate? Not necessarily. And we have a feeling Mark Twain would agree with us.

Have a question on admission statistics? Post it below and we’ll be sure to jump in.

Congratulations to Our Ivy Coach Students

Congrats Ivy Coach Kids, Congrats 2017 Ivy Coach Students, Congratulations to Our Students

Mazel tov! Félicitations. 恭喜. Glückwünsche! Felicidades! Congratulations to our Ivy Coach students around the world on their offers of admission to some of America’s very best universities!

Updated to Reflect Our Stanford Regular Decision Admits: Congratulations to our Ivy Coach students who earned admission to our nation’s best universities this year in both the Early Decision / Early Action round as well as the Regular Decision round.

We typically list all of the schools our students earn admission to each year. But a list doesn’t convey the story we wish to tell — a story we can’t tell because we value the confidentiality of our clients. For instance, we’ve had students admitted to every single Ivy League school many times over the years. So that one student alone would warrant listing every Ivy League school on our list. But of course we have multiple students who earn admission to every Ivy League school every year, without exception.

And are there certain Ivy League and other highly selective colleges that year after year enroll more of our students than others? You bet. While some things change from year to year, there are certain schools that annually admit — and enroll — many of our students. But of course even these schools don’t know because we wouldn’t be very good at our work if colleges knew our students had help. What admissions officer on this planet roots for a kid whose parents paid a consultant to help them earn admission to the college of their dreams? None. A good private college consultant works exclusively behind the scenes.

But we’ll give our readers a list anyway on this day after Ivy League Decision Day. There are some years we worry more than others on the day(s) the Ivy League schools roll out Regular Decision notifications. But we never worry too much because we know our students have given themselves the best chance possible of admission. And this year, we weren’t worried very much at all because our students had either already earned admission to top choice schools in the Early round or days/weeks earlier in the Regular Decision round or they received Likely Letters from Ivies (which are equivalent to offers of admission). With one exception. We were worried about one student this year on this day. This student didn’t know we were worried because we didn’t want the student to have any unnecessary worry. But after this student earned admission yesterday to multiple Ivy League colleges, our worries vanished. We even told the student how worried we were and the student laughed. Clearly we were more worried than the student.

Our very favorite acceptances are always the ones in which admissions officers include handwritten notes. Sometimes our students just tell us they got in without sending us the letters only to flippantly say, “Oh and there was a note.” We love those notes! Show us those notes!

So without further ado, among the universities our students at Ivy Coach earned admission to in 2017 (and late 2016 when Early Decision / Early Action notifications rolled out) are as follows. Keep in mind, there are other schools too but this covers a good portion: Stanford University, Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Duke University, Barnard College, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Amherst College, Williams College, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Southern California, University of Chicago, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, Vassar College, Swarthmore College, Bates College, Pomona College, Wellesley College, Middlebury College, University of Virginia, University of Michigan, Notre Dame University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California – Berkeley, University of California – Los Angeles, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, New York University, and more. Because we definitely forgot some creating this list strictly from memory.

And some folks ask us each and every year a version of: “If you had to pick one school that became more difficult to get into this year, which would it be?” For 2016-2017, the answer is — without a doubt — Northwestern University. And with the Wildcats’ first trip to March Madness this year, we anticipate Northwestern will become even more difficult next year. Because, yes, how far a team advances in March Madness impacts applications the subsequent admissions cycle.


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