The Wealthy and Early Decision

Early Decision Policies, Wealth and Early Decision, Early Action and Wealth

There are some folks who argue that Early Decision and Early Action policies cater to the wealthy. We don’t agree.

There are some folks who argue that Early Decision and Early Action policies at highly selective colleges cater to the wealthy, to the disadvantage of middle and lower income college applicants. But these folks — as we’ve been saying for years — are wrong to assert such. Do wealthier applicants tend to apply in the Early Decision / Early Action round as compared to the Regular Decision round? You bet. But not for the right reasons.

As the University of Pennsylvania’s always candid Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said in reference to the Early Decision round at Penn in a piece in “The Washington Post,” “‘This pool is becoming broader and deeper and more diverse than it’s ever been. It’s time to start telling that story,’ Furda said. ‘I don’t want lower-income families to be told, ‘Don’t apply early decision because you’re going to need to compare financial-aid packages.” These days, nearly as many early-decision freshmen receive need-based grants from Penn as their peers admitted in the regular cycle, he said.” We echo the sentiments expressed by Eric Furda.

The fact is that most applicants choose not to apply Early Decision because they’re not ready to make a commitment. Nick Anderson, in his piece in “The Washington Post” referred to those who are willing to make this commitment as “the Pledgers” whereas those who choose to apply Regular Decision instead are “the Shoppers.” We don’t disagree with these labels but we do take issue with Anderson referring to the Pledgers as “a privileged subset.” Students need to commit to one college in the end anyway. Why should the students who have the chutzpah to commit to a school Early — when the odds are so much more in their favor (just look at UPenn’s admissions statistics over the years) — be disparaged? Why should the students who don’t wish to apply to 20 schools and only wish to apply to one school and be done with it be labeled “a privileged subset”? We’ve got a more appropriate label for “the Pledgers” — savvy!

Early Decision 2 Round

ED2 Round, Early Decision, Early Decision Round Two

Emory University is one institution with an Early Decision 2 round.

Most highly selective colleges have only one round of Early Decision. But at some schools — both highly selective, selective, and not particularly selective — there are two distinct rounds of Early Decision. So we figured we’d share with the readers of our college admissions blog the colleges that offer two rounds of Early Decision. Well, actually that list is a bit long for our liking so we’ll cherry pick the highly selective or selective ones. Apologies to any we chose not to cherry pick.

American University, Bates Colleges, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Carleton College, Claremont McKenna College, Colby College, Colorado College, Connecticut College, Davidson College, Emory University, George Washington University, Grinnell College, Hamilton College, Harvey Mudd College, Lehigh University, Middlebury College, New York University, Oberlin College, Occidental College, Pomona College, University of Richmond, Sarah Lawrence College, Smith College, Swarthmore College, Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University.

So many of the small liberal arts schools in New England offer two rounds of Early Decision. We’d sure call it a trend. Wouldn’t you? Have a question about Early Decision 2? If so, post your question below and we’ll be sure to write back.

Deferred Harvard Applicant

A student who was deferred in the Early Action round at Harvard this year (he is not an Ivy Coach client) reached out to us letting us know that he reads our blog and finds it a valuable resource for students navigating the highly selective college admissions process. He asked if we wouldn’t mind publishing a video he made for submission to Harvard, a video he hopes will improve his odds of earning admission in the Regular Decision round to the university. It’s a parody of the infamous “Miss Universe Pageant” hosted by Steve Harvey.

We should preface sharing this video with this: We do not recommend that deferred students to Harvard — or any other highly selective university — submit videos to the admissions office. While every now and then a video will work (and go viral), in most cases they fall flat. This video, one intended to be humorous, falls completely flat for us. It doesn’t feel fresh. It didn’t make us giggle. It’s not emblematic of the kind of humor that, say, “The Harvard Lampoon” is known for (Conan O’Brien was a past president of “The Harvard Lampoon.”

Deferred students should submit a very powerful and compelling Letter of Enthusiasm (a term we at Ivy Coach coined years ago) to the university that deferred them. It gives them the best possible shot of earning admission. Do students who are deferred have a good shot of getting in during the Regular Decision round? No. At most highly selective colleges, they’ve got a 10% shot of getting in. An amazing Letter of Enthusiasm significantly improves these odds (an ordinary Letter of Enthusiasm can hurt more than help!). And as for this video, we’re not sure it improved the candidate’s odds at all unfortunately. In fact, we think it will hurt more than help (though we hope we’re wrong and we are rooting for this student (who obviously doesn’t read our blog too closely because we’d never suggest he submit a video like this!).

Deferred at Harvard? Fill out our free consult form as, if you haven’t done anything just yet, we can still help! If you’ve already submitted videos like these, we wish you all the best but, regrettably, there isn’t much we can do.

Early Application Numbers

Early App Numbers, Early Decision Numbers, Early Action Numbers

Each and every year seems to be “the best class ever” at every highly selective college…not only Brown.

Ivy Coach is featured extensively on the pages of “The Brown Daily Herald” today, the newspaper of Brown University. In a piece by Alex Skidmore entitled “Jump in early admission lowers total acceptance rate,” the slug-line (is that what you call it?) reads: “Ivy Coach expert says higher early admission rate calculated effort to boost University rankings.” Well but of course! Regular readers of our college admissions blog know that highly selective colleges (and Brown is surely not the only culprit here — they’re all guilty) want as many students to apply as possible since, invariably, the more students who apply, the lower the acceptance rate will be. One does not need to take Differential Equations to understand this math. It’s simple arithmetic. And long division, we suppose.

It’s the best class ever! It’s not like we’ve never seen that before. JK!

As we’re quoted in the piece, “Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, offered a different perspective. The number of applications that the University has received in total has risen steadily over the years, but the University is not receiving more qualified applicants, he said. ‘Colleges are getting better and better at getting unqualified students to apply,’ Taylor said. This allows the University to tout ‘the most competitive class ever,’ he added. This process is meant to boost a school’s U.S. News and World Report ranking, Taylor said. ‘There is no bigger impact (on admission) than the annual rankings,’ he added. In some parts of the world, the U.S. News and World Report rankings system is ‘the Bible’ of college admission and a deciding factor for many students applying, he said.”

The piece goes on, “When universities admit more students through a binding early decision process, they have to admit fewer students during regular decision, thereby lowering their overall acceptance rate, Taylor said. Universities are guaranteed 100 percent matriculation from early decision applicants because of their binding commitment to attend the school.” And it goes on further, “Brown and its peer schools then have to admit more students than they expect will eventually attend, increasing their acceptance rate and lowering their selectivity score for the rankings. Though this phenomenon occurs at all highly selective universities, Penn has used this tactic most blatantly, Taylor said.”

We always do like to offer that “different” perspective. Whatever. We’ll own it. Agree with us? Disagree? We’re curious to hear your thoughts so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back.

Early Decision Pool Diversity

Early Decision Pool, Diversity in Early Decision, Early Decision at UPenn

Ivy Coach was referenced in a piece in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” recently on the diversity of the Early Decision pool.

Ivy Coach was featured a few days back on the pages of the University of Pennsylvania’s newspaper, “The Daily Pennsylvanian.” The piece, written by Sophia Leporte, is entitled “Early Decision pool becoming more diverse” and, naturally, it focuses on how the group of students who applied Early to UPenn is more diverse than ever before. Regular readers of our college admissions blog know that we encourage all of our students to apply Early Decision or Early Action. In fact, if a student should come to us before the Early round and not wish to apply Early, we won’t work with this student. And why? Because that student isn’t willing to play his or her cards right to get in. An Early Decision or Early Action card is one of the few cards that a college applicant to a school like the University of Pennsylvania has in the back pocket. To not use it is, in a word, nuts.

One reason some folks choose not to apply Early Decision or Early Action is because they don’t think they’ll get the best financial aid offer if they only apply to, say, one school. Here’s our answer, as quoted in “The Daily Pennsylvanian”: “Brian Taylor, the director of college counseling practice Ivy Coach, acknowledges that more underprivileged students may not be applying early because of this but notes that it is a misconception, since many universities, including Penn, have now made financial aid calculators easily accessible on their websites. ‘Yes, fewer underprivileged applicants apply in the early round,’ Taylor said. ‘And often for the wrong reasons — because they want to compare higher financial aid packages when, in fact, you can find that information out without even applying to colleges.'” And while this remains an issue not just at UPenn but at every highly selective college in America, as the piece points out, “Taylor agrees that the diversity of Penn’s early decision round is getting better. ‘It’s still somewhat of an issue, but it is not as drastic as some people may think,’ Taylor said.”

So many students choose not to apply Early Decision and so many of them make this decision for the wrong reason.

Have a question about applying Early Decision or Early Action? Think that the Early Decision or Early Action pool at various highly selective colleges is less diverse than the Regular Decision pools? Don’t like this? We’re curious to hear from our readers so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back.

Homeless Student Admitted to UPenn

Homeless at Penn, UPenn Homeless Admit, UPenn Early Decision Candidate

An article in today’s “Daily Pennsylvanian” tells the story of a young man who happened to be homeless who earned admission in the Early Decision round to the University of Pennsylvania.

There is a heartwarming story in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” today, the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, about a young man who has been homeless for much of his life who earned admission in the Early Decision round to Penn. Regular readers of our college admissions blog might remember that we once helped a homeless student earn admission to one of America’s most highly selective universities — a young man who juggled (literally) to pay for food. He is a young man we will never forget. And this young man featured in today’s “Daily Pennsylvanian,” Johnathan Phillips, a senior at McKinney North High School in Texas, reminds us of him.

As articulated in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” piece about the new UPenn admit, “Phillips has been homeless on and off for months at a time since he was about seven years old. He has lived with friends, in a homeless shelter and sometimes for a few days on the streets. His mother, Deanna Phillips, was unable to work because of an illness and was also undergoing a custody battle for Phillips’ half-sister — some of the circumstances that financially drained their family. ‘We take care of each other. It’s just been kind of our thing,’ Phillips said.”

Phillips was a QuestBridge winner, which means that his tuition for the four years of his University of Pennsylvania education is fully covered. And of course he’ll be offered stable housing too. He is among 50 QuestBridge winners admitted to the University of Pennsylvania in the Early Decision round and we are certain that this young man, who wishes to study political science and chemistry (but also has an aptitude for writing), will bring a wonderful and unique perspective to campus life. We at Ivy Coach salute the University of Pennsylvania for offering this young man admission. But we have a feeling it is the university that should be grateful for he sounds like an amazing young man.

MIT Class of 2020

MIT 2020, 2020 at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 2020

We’ve got the statistics for the Early Action Class of 2020 at MIT.

The statistics are in for the MIT Class of 2020, at least the part of the class filled during the Early Action round. In all 656 students earned admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall out of a total Early Action pool of 7,767 applicants (which marked a record for the institution). It doesn’t take an MIT math genius to know that this leads to a 8.4% Early Action admission rate for the Class of 2020, besting last year’s 9.6% admission rate. That’s quite a big difference in the course of a year.

As reported by Gabriella Studt in “The Tech,” the newspaper of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “The dramatic increase in early applications may be attributed to a change in policy this year. For the first time, international students were allowed to apply for consideration during the early action round of admissions. Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill ’86 said that he was ‘really pleased’ to be able to open early action program to international students. The policy change ‘certainly made the decisions that much tougher — we received about a thousand applications from international students — but also allowed us to admit a few more students than we did last year,’ Schmill said. Among the early admits, 6 percent are international students. By comparison, about 9.7 percent of the current undergraduate student body is international. The diversity of this year’s early admits extends beyond just the geographic: 14 percent will be the first in their family to graduate from college, 27 percent identify as underrepresented minorities, and 49 percent are women.”

So sometimes it’s just conjecture why an applicant pool increased significantly from year to year, while sometimes there is a clear reason for the surge. For MIT’s Class of 2020, that reason is quite clear. And if you happen to be wondering how many students’ admission was deferred, that number stands at 4,776 for the Early round at MIT this year. And how many were denied admission? 2,175. So, as per usual, more were deferred than denied. We believe schools should flip those numbers, to not give students false hope. It’s not like they’re going to offer admission to over 4,000 deferred applicants. At most highly selective colleges, about 10% of deferred applicants end up getting in during the Regular Decision round. At Ivy Coach, we help students who come to us for the first time after getting deferred earn admission to schools like MIT each and every year.

Stanford Early Action Class of 2020

Stanford Early Action, Early Action at Stanford, Stanford University Admission

A piece in “The Stanford Daily” reports on the statistics from the Early Action round at Stanford, for the Class of 2020.

The statistics are in for the Stanford Early Action Class of 2020 and we’ve got this data for our readers. In all, 745 students earned admission to The Farm this Early Action cycle. 7,822 students submitted applications to Stanford this Early Action cycle so that means the acceptance rate stands at 9.5%. It marked the largest Early pool in the university’s history and from this pool, 701 still have a shot at getting in as their admission was deferred to the Regular Decision round (although at most highly selective colleges, the odds of getting in after being deferred are around 10%).

An article by Sarah Wishingrad for “The Stanford Daily” reports on Stanford’s Early Action Class of 2020. In it, Wishingrad writes, “This year’s early acceptance rate was lower than last year’s, which was 10.2 percent. For the Class of 2019, Stanford accepted 743 and deferred 562 students out of a pool of 7,297 early applicants…The 745 early admits come from 48 states and 34 countries, according to Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid. Over 80 percent of the students have a high school grade point average of 4.0 or above.”

Stanford is expecting about 35,000 students to submit applications in the Regular Decision round. That’s quite a lot of applicants! Anyhow, congratulations to our students at Ivy Coach who earned admission to Stanford University to be members of the Class of 2020 this Early Action admissions cycle. We’re so very excited for you!

Ivy League Early Application Numbers

Ivy League Early Figures, Ivy League Early Action, Ivy League Early Decision

We’ve got the Early Decision and Early Action application figures from across the Ivy League for our readers (photo credit: Eflon).

While we’ll be updating our Ivy League Statistics pages after the Regular Decision figures come in, a practice we’ve done every year dating back over a decade, we figured we’d share with you the Early Decision and Early Action figures from across the eight Ivy League institutions for the Class of 2020. So now, with the anticipation building we know, we’ll share those figures with our readers.

Yale University saw a dip in the number of applications this fall, securing 4,662 applications. This marked less than a 1% decrease. Brown University saw a similar minor dip, securing 3,030 applications, also down about 1%. Each of the other six Ivy League institutions saw an increase in applications this Early Decision / Early Action cycle, for the Class of 2020. Princeton University’s numbers climbed the most significantly as the university secured 4,174 application (up 9.4%). Cornell University landed 4,866 applicants to mark a climb of 6.7%. Columbia University secured 3,520 applications — up 4.4%. The University of Pennsylvania received 5,629 Early Decision applications, marking an increase of 4.4%. Harvard University received 6,173 applications (as per usual, the most in the Ivy League), marking an increase of 4.3%. And Dartmouth College received 1,896 applications, an increase of 2%.

Do these Ivy League Early Decision and Early Action numbers for the Class of 2020 surprise you? If so, how so? We’re curious to hear from our readers so let us know your thoughts on the numbers by posting a Comment below.

Postmortem Admissions Eval

Postmortem Admission Evaluation, University Admission Evaluation, College Admissions Postmortem

Deferred in the Early round? Don’t make the same mistake twice. Or three, four, five times (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Some folks who were not previously our clients have been writing in asking for help with their Letters of Enthusiasm to the schools that deferred them in the Early Decision / Early Action round. Once we’re on the phone together for a free consult and they mention the Letter of Enthusiasm, the first thing we say is: “Has your child submitted his or her applications to the Regular Decision schools yet?” If the answer is “yes,” then there’s nothing we can do other than suggest he or she potentially add other schools to the list. And why? Because if the student was deferred in the Early Decision or Early Action round, there’s quite a good chance there were mistakes in the application. In fact, there is a 100% chance we would be able to significantly improve what that student has, if they came to us with enough time to spare. But if they already submitted those applications, there is nothing we can do. We’re then happy to work with the student on a Letter of Enthusiasm to the Early Decision or Early Action school.

If a student didn’t get into his or her Early Decision / Early Action school, you can bet there’s room for improvement on that application.

But if the answer is “no” — if the student hasn’t yet submitted applications to the Regular Decision schools — then we advise strongly against working on the Letter of Enthusiasm right away. After all, the Letter of Enthusiasm, a term we coined years ago, isn’t due on January 1st. Many applications are due on this date. The priority for these students should be fixing the mistakes that hurt their case for admission to their Early school, so they don’t make the same mistake over and over again on repeat.

And so for students who haven’t yet submitted their Regular Decision applications, we recommend a Postmortem Evaluation. We recommend you stop thinking about your Letter of Enthusiasm — focus on that in the New Year when you’ve got time on your side. Not now. Definitely not now. No admissions officer is reading your Letter of Enthusiasm over the holiday break anyway. Get real. If you’re interested in a Postmortem Evaluation in these final days before the New Year, we might have time to squeeze you in. Or we might not. It will depend on our scheduling. We will try. But we can make no promises. But even if you don’t do a postmortem with us, scrutinize that Early application — scrutinize, scrutinize, scrutinize it. As our President George W. Bush once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” Ok, what he really meant was: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”


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