Some parents come to us around this time of year in the hope that their child won’t make mistakes in the highly selective college admissions process that will hurt their case for admission. For most of these parents, their children have already made a major mistake. And that mistake is that their child didn’t apply Early Decision or Early Action. Just take a look at the data, through our compiled Ivy League Statistics. The odds of getting in during the Early round are so much more favorable than in the Regular Decision round. It’s apples and oranges. To not use your Early Decision or Early Action card, and to not use it wisely by applying to a reach school but not an impossible reach, is to not take advantage of one of the few cards that a college applicant has in their back pocket.
Many assert that Early Decision or Early Action is only great for athletes and legacies. These folks couldn’t be more wrong.
When we tell parents that this was a mistake not to apply Early Decision or Early Action, they sometimes tell us that they heard it’s harder to get in during the Early round, because so many athletes and legacies and such are applying then too. They sure are. Recruited athletes are often admitted in the Early round. And the same is true of legacies. But that doesn’t change the fact that when a non-athlete, non-legacy applicant applies Early and shows a school his or her unmatched love for that university, that university will show the applicant back a whole lot more love than if he or she simply applied Regular Decision. The odds of getting in for that non-athlete, non-legacy are so much stronger in the Early round and any information out there to the contrary is patently false.
Another line we hear quite a bit from parents is that students weren’t able to commit to a school in the Early round, that they wanted to apply to a bunch. And what do we have to say to that? Your child is going to have to commit to one school, in the end, anyway so he or she might as well do it in the Early Decision / Early Action round when the odds are, to paraphrase from “The Hunger Games” (coming off its worst box office opening this past weekend) “ever in your favor.”
Hope to avoid making other major mistakes in the highly selective college admissions process? Fill out our free consult form and you’ll receive a reply from Ivy Coach within the day.
Ivy Coach is featured today in an article of “The Yale Daily News” entitled “Early applications show increased diversity” written by Jon Victor. The article focuses on the Yale Early Action admission numbers for the Class of 2020. Early Action applications to Yale University were down slightly this year, with the school receiving 4,662 applications under their Single Choice Early Action policy. For the Class of 2019, Yale received 4,693 applications, representing as Victor writes “a marginal drop.”
What we happened to notice was that the Yale University press release was quite defensive about this marginal drop in applications. Indeed, the release reads: “As always, the Admissions Office is less interested in the total quantity of applications received, and is more interested in the quality of those applications and the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and interests reflected in the pool.” Uh huh. Of course colleges like Yale care about recruiting a diverse class. But you can bet they also care about the number of applications they receive.
As we are quoted in the piece: “Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, said the increased diversity of the pool shows that Yale’s outreach efforts to minority students have been effective. He also noted that a school’s early application numbers are important for college rankings such as the list published by U.S. News and World Report, which factors acceptance rate into its rankings. He pointed out that Yale’s early acceptance rate has increased in each of the last three years. The early acceptance rate for the class of 2017 was 14.4 percent, while for the class of 2019 it was 16.0 percent.” An increase in acceptance rate isn’t what Yale is aiming for, though it does seem they are making great strides at increasing the diversity of their class under the leadership of Jeremiah Quinlan.
Thinking of applying to one college or to twenty colleges this college admissions cycle? There’s a piece up on “Insider Higher Ed” entitled “Most Freshmen Apply to One College, Data Suggest” that we figured we’d write about on the pages of our college admissions blog. For loyal readers of our blog, they know our position on applying to colleges — apply Early Decision or Early Action. By applying Early Decision or Early Action, an applicant’s odds of getting into his or her dream college are so much stronger. Just take a look through our compiled Ivy League Statistics through the years. The data tells the full story, better than our analysis of it ever could.
So maybe so many students are applying to only one college because we’ve been successfully getting the word out over the years. Maybe. Maybe not. According to the piece, “Two-thirds of college freshmen who applied for federal student loans or grants last year indicated that they were applying to only one institution, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday. Sixty-eight percent of freshmen filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid during the 2014-15 academic year instructed the Education Department to send their information to only one college, the department said. That’s down from 80 percent in the 2008-09 school year. The Obama administration called the new data ‘troubling.’ ‘By focusing on only one school, students run the risk of being turned down for admission or losing out on better financial aid and educational opportunities from another school, with ramifications that can last a lifetime,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.”
If our Secretary of Education disapproves of the trend of students applying to only one college, the Secretary of Education should scrutinize misaligned incentives.
But Secretary Duncan, with due respect, have you considered looking through the statistics at the highly selective colleges — for the Early Decision / Early Action round as compared to the Regular Decision round? If you did so, you’d know that the incentives are misaligned. Just like in real estate, with brokers. The more you pay for a house, the more your own broker gets. “Freakonomics” taught us this. Well, the incentives are misaligned with respect to applying to one school as compared to many schools, too, if you think about it. Perhaps, Secretary Duncan, instead of lamenting the problem, you should propose a viable solution if you truly believe it to be a problem. That’s just our two cents.
The numbers are in for Dartmouth’s Early Decision Class of 2020. No, not the number of students who’ve been admitted. Only the number of students who submitted applications to the College on the Hill. Dartmouth experienced a 2% increase for the Class of 2020 from last year’s total for Early Decision applications. And last year’s Early Decision pool, for the Class of 2019, was the largest in the history of Dartmouth College.
As referenced in “The Dartmouth,” “Students admitted through the early decision process comprised 41 percent of the Class of 2019. While a decade ago this figure was about 35 percent, it has been closer to 40 percent for the past several years. The number of early decision applications has increased every year since 2006, with the exception of a 12.6 percent drop in the number of early applications for the Class of 2017. Over this time, the number of applicants has increased from 1,287 to 1,859.”
There were some scares a couple of years ago when applications dipped for the Class of 2017, but these sorts of things happen every now and then. Yale’s Early Action applications are down this year. But only marginally. As we’ve long said on the pages of this blog and to every Ivy League newspaper, slight dips such as these are no reason for colleges to get bent out of shape and start second guessing their recruiting tactics. But there was no slight dip at Dartmouth this year. Rather, there was indeed a slight application uptick.
But does more applications mean it’ll be more competitive? Not necessary. Think about it this way: Does a C student with a 26 ACT score applying to Dartmouth make it more difficult for students to get in? No. Not in the least. So application numbers don’t tell the full story. They never have. But that doesn’t mean colleges don’t want to see those application numbers go up every year. They sure do — no matter what it is the colleges may say.
There’s a piece in “Forbes” by Troy Onink entitled “College Admissions: Answers From Prep School Pros” that we figured we’d discuss on the pages of our college admissions blog. A college counselor at a preparatory school is asked about when students should or should not apply Early Decision or Early Action. Here’s the first sentence of her answer: “Early Decision should be reserved for students who are 100% certain they have discovered a school they want to attend.” We emphatically disagree.
We know, you’re probably thinking…how could you possibly disagree with this seemingly innocuous statement, right? When a student applies Early Decision to a college, that applicant makes a binding commitment to attend that institution. So he or she should of course know 100% that it’s his or her first choice college. It seems reasonable enough. But few things in life are 100%. In the real world that we live in, there is some grey area. Few students absolutely, 100% love one school above all others. And even if they do, college applicants are teenagers. Their minds change by the minute. Last Tuesday, Duke may have been the first choice. This Tuesday, it might be Princeton.
The advantages of applying through an Early Decision or Early Action program should not be understated. If you’re not aware of the statistical advantage of applying Early, check out our compiled Ivy League Statistics. Check out the Early Decision or Early Action statistics for a particular school and then check out that same school’s Regular Decision statistics. You’ll note it’s pears and bananas. That’s our way of saying apples and oranges. The fact is that few students are 100% about anything (and being 75% can indeed be ok!). At the end of the day, students will have to commit to one school. So these students might as well make this commitment before the Early Decision / Early Action deadline when the odds are ever in their favor, to paraphrase from “The Hunger Games” and all.
Agree? Disagree? We’re curious to hear from our readers.
If you’re a high school senior and you haven’t yet submitted your Early Decision or Early Action application but will be doing so before the clock strikes November 2nd, you might consider a last minute review of your application. This would include a review of your Common Application, including your Personal Statement and Activities, the supplement for the individual school that you’re applying to, and everything that admissions officers will see when they review your application.
At this late date, not everything we see that’s hurting your case for admission can be corrected. No way. We can’t offer you instructions on how to find a hook that you can hone through high school, though we can help you better showcase that hook if you happen to have one. We can’t offer you advice on how to fix mistakes in coursework (and, yes, just because your high school doesn’t offer certain coursework doesn’t mean you can’t be taking those courses). But there are still lots of mistakes that we can correct. We can let you know why a line in your Personal Statement, if you keep it in there, will cost you admission. We can brainstorm with you a new direction for a cliche essay that you wrote. You may not realize it’s cliche, but once you speak with us, you’ll fully understand. And you’ll think, “I’m sure glad I didn’t submit that essay. That would’ve been bad, really bad.” It’s not too late to make significant changes to essays, though time is of the essence.
If you’re interested in a one-hour evaluation before the clock strikes November 2nd (and remember Daylight Savings!), click on our orange button at the top or bottom of our website. Fill out the form. Write “Last Minute Evaluation” at the bottom in the comments area. Our fees for these last minute evaluations are higher than are our typical fees for evaluations and that’s because we have limited time in our days. FedEx charges you more for rush delivery. So does College Board. And so does Ivy Coach. For those who don’t approve, like the Independent Educational Consultants Association (we don’t believe membership in this organization is worth the paper it’s written on), we suggest you look into moving to a communist country. Perhaps the Independent Educational Consultants Association should be headquartered in China. Or Vermont for those Bernie Sanders supporters. FedEx delivers there, too.
For students who have applied Early Decision or Early Action and have already submitted their applications to these schools, it is our recommendation that they not go through their Early applications again. At least for now, that is. Because, in our experience, students will drive themselves nuts. They’ll drive themselves nuts when they see typos in their Personal Statement, in their supplemental essays. They’ll drive themselves nuts when they realize they probably should have answered a certain prompt differently. They’ll drive themselves nuts when they realize they reported their testing incorrectly. Of course, our students at Ivy Coach don’t make these kinds of mistakes. We spend extensive time with our students perfecting their applications and proofing every last detail. But we know students who are not our clients do make such mistakes.
And so to those students who are not our clients, don’t look at those applications. There is nothing to gain and you’ll only stress yourself out unnecessarily. What good does discovering a typo do now? You can’t fix it. Although you can fix these kinds of mistakes for the Regular Decision round should you not gain admission to your Early Decision or Early Action school(s). And you should not be waiting until you find out from the Early school(s) to start working on those applications as you, quite simply, won’t have the time to turn in outstanding applications that are uniquely tailored for the individual schools.
So while we recommend that students not look at their Early applications again, we will make an exception. If you’d like us to review the application so you don’t make the same kinds of costly mistakes in the Regular Decision round, we’d be happy to do so during a one-hour evaluation. At least there is a productive component to this review. Simply finding a typo and then stressing about that typo for weeks is not productive (although be sure not to submit that same typo to Regular Decision colleges if you end up applying through Regular Decision).
If you’re interested in a review of your Early application, fill out a free consultation form so you can learn about the one-hour evaluation in which we’d go through that application. You may end up hearing things you don’t want to hear. But it’s better you hear these things than make the same kinds of mistake during Regular Decision — wouldn’t you say?
If you’re a high school senior and you’re not sure where you’ll be applying Early Decision / Early Action, what on earth are you waiting for? What will help make your decision tomorrow that couldn’t help make your decision three months ago? But, nonetheless, at least you probably understand the importance of applying Early Decision / Early Action. There are more students out there who have decided not to apply Early at all. Frankly, they’re just nuts. To not apply Early Decision / Early Action is to not use one of the few, most valuable cards an applicant has in his or her back pocket.
Take a look at our Ivy League Statistics page, the most comprehensive compilation of data on Ivy League admissions statistics you’ll find anywhere. Let’s take a closer look at some of the Early Decision / Early Action and Regular Decision admission rates to make our point crystal clear. For the Class of 2019 (last year), at Brown University, the Early admission rate was 20%. In Regular Decision? That same statistic was 7.2%. For the same class at Cornell University, the Regular Decision admit rate was 13.3%. In the Early round? 27.2%. At Dartmouth College, it was 8.8% in the Regular round. In Early Decision, it was 26%.
Mark Twain may have said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” But in this case, the man who brought Huckleberry Finn to the world would be wrong. To not apply Early Decision or Early Action (depending on the individual school’s policy) would be to ignore all of the data. It would be to ignore our expert advice. You would be doing yourself a great disservice.
And if you do need assistance in these final days, there are — we repeat there are — still things that can be done so as to improve your case for admission to an Early Decision / Early Action school. So fill out our consultation form and we’ll be in touch via email within the day. Don’t call us. Don’t email us. Just fill out the form and we’ll be in touch — we’re simple like that.
If you’re the parent of a student who isn’t yet sure where he or she wants to go to college, that’s fairly normal. Lots of people procrastinate. Especially teenagers. Your daughter has been promising to clean up her room for weeks and there is still a ton of dirty laundry sprinkled across her floor. You may wonder if there is even floor. And while procrastination is normal, in highly selective college admissions, it is the enemy. It is the absolute statistical enemy. Have a glance at our compiled Ivy League Admissions Statistics through the years. Take a close look at Early Decision / Early Action admission statistics. Then, compare those same statistics to Regular Decision admission statistics at the same universities. Notice a difference? If not, we suggest you purchase third grade mathematics flashcards. Whatever. We tell it like it is, whether you like it or not.
If your son or daughter is still procrastinating and is considering against applying Early Decision or Early Action to a college because he or she isn’t ready to make that binding commitment to a school (in the case of Early Decision), then your son or daughter needs a good kick in the tush. Is that how you spell tush? We’re not quite sure. We Googled it but we only came up with the Central District of Siahkal County in Iran. That’s not what we were aiming for, as you might well imagine. But, in all seriousness, your child would be crazy to not apply Early. An Early Decision / Early Action card is one of the few — and we do mean few — cards that a student has in his or her back pocket. So this card must be used and it must be used wisely. To not use it, in our straight-shooting opinion, is absolutely, positively crazy. Don’t be crazy.
The fact is that your child is going to have to commit to one school in the end anyway. He or she might as well commit before November 1st, when the odds are much more strongly in his or her favor. By applying Early, he or she just might gain admission to that reach school. And if you’re not sure what is a reach school or not, or if your child actually has a genuine shot for admission to a particular college, we recommend you complete a paid one-hour evaluation with us so that we can go over your child’s case for admission. Among many other things, you will come away with an understanding of what our famous crystal ball (and, no, we’re not kidding…not in the least!) says about your child’s case for admission to a particular Early Decision / Early Action school. If our crystal ball tells you not to waste your Early card on Princeton, we suggest you listen and use your Early card more wisely. And we’ll tell you how to do just that.
So fill out our free consultation form today to discuss our service offerings. If you’re interested in proceeding straight to the paid one-hour evaluation that follows (since our free consult is only to answer questions about our service offerings), kindly email us your physical mailing address. We won’t be mailing you anything. We only need the physical mailing address to include at the top of an Agreement that we send to you via email. We will then email you the documents we need in advance of the evaluation, like any terrible, horrible, no good, very bad essays that have been written, your child’s transcript, testing, etc. We look forward to hearing from you.
How many colleges to apply to, you ask? Parents and students often ask us how many colleges is an appropriate number of colleges to apply to. The Common Application allows students to apply to 20 schools and, unless these students’ high schools forbid them from doing so (or even from submitting 20 applications), they can also submit applications to colleges that aren’t part of the Common Application. Most of our students at Ivy Coach don’t apply to 20 schools. In fact, the vast majority of our students apply Early Decision or Early Action and then they’re done. While so many of their peers remain stressed throughout senior year, they can sit back and know that they’ve already earned admission to their dream school.
We sometimes hear from parents and students that they don’t want to apply Early because they’re not ready to commit to any one school. And we say, “That’s ridiculous.” Or some version of this line. First of all, when you apply Early Action, it’s non-binding so the student doesn’t have to go if admitted. But even if a student does apply Early Decision (which is binding), that student is going to have to make a commitment to one school in the end anyway. So why wouldn’t he or she make that commitment early on, when the odds are much more in that student’s favor? At many highly selective colleges, the admission rate can be four times higher (or more!) in the Early Decision or Early Action round. The numbers speak the truth. The truth we tell you!
It’s absolutely crazy to not apply Early Decision or Early Action. If the argument is that you want to weigh various financial aid packages, you might want to first determine if you even qualify for aid as, in so many instances, families don’t and yet they apply for aid hoping that they’ll get it. In spite of what colleges may tell you, this will hurt your child’s case for admission. Colleges that claim to be need blind aren’t telling you the full truth. They’re need aware. Quite aware. And you can also plug your income and such into the Net Price Calculator and figure out what kind of aid package you should expect anyway. You don’t have to wait on college decisions to figure this all out.
So while it’s true that more affluent students tend to apply Early Decision and Early Action, it’s for the wrong reasons. It’s because there’s a lot of misinformation out there that disinclines less affluent students from applying Early. And, on this college admissions blog, we aim to correct this historical college admissions trend.