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The Ivy Coach Daily

October 12, 2020

Diminishing Returns After Early Round of Admissions

A student’s best chance of earning admission to the best school is by applying Early (photo credit: Namkota).

There he goes again. Brennan Barnard, a college counselor at The Derryfield School, a school in New Hampshire that is trying way too hard to be Exeter, has published another longwinded diatribe on college admissions that is brimming with hypocrisy. If you’re not familiar with some of Mr. Barnard’s prior hypocritical assertions on college admissions, do have a look at our analyses of some of his prior longwinded rants that spread a whole lot of misinformation. Maybe he’s run out of material. This week, he’s regurgitating one of his old, tired arguments — that Early Decision / Early Action policies essentially offer advantage only to the privileged and that the whole premise of an Early round in admissions creates unnecessary anxiety.

The Man Who Professes to Defend the American Meritocracy Helps Bobsledders Get Into College

Where would we be without Mr. Barnard, the defender of American meritocracy…at least when he’s not also working as the director of college counseling at US Performance Academy, an online high school for competitive athletes: bobsledders, synchronized swimmers, skiers, sailors, and more. Because bobsledding and sailing just scream American meritocracy, right? Oy vey is right. In any case, enough about this super-spreader of hypocritical, misleading advice on highly selective college admissions. Let’s cut to his latest misleading assertion. After all, the objective of our college admissions blog is to stand up against hypocrisy, to speak truth to power, and to debunk misconceptions about the admissions process perpetuated by admissions officers, school counselors, the press, and fishermen.

He Believes Applying Early Because of a Fear of Diminishing Returns Is Unsound

On that note, here’s what he said in reference to applying Early Decision in a piece entitled “The Pumpkin Spice Of College Admission,”: “Buying in early because of the fear of diminishing stock is not a sound strategy.” It seems Mr. Barnard now fancies himself to be an investment portfolio advisor. But the fact is, contrary to the words of Mr. Barnard, buying in early in highly selective college admissions is absolutely a sound strategy — as the admission statistics reflect. Not so sure? Have a look at the Early admission rates at each of the Ivies through the years and compare those figures with the schools’ respective Regular Decision admission rates. These figures tell the story.

The College Counselor to Bobsledders Is As Wrong As Can Be

The truth is a student’s best chance of getting into the best school possible is by applying Early to a reach school. It’s why we always advocate applying to a reach school in the Early round — but never an impossible reach. As an example, every year in mid-December, we hear from prospective clients — students who are not our clients — who applied Early to Harvard and didn’t get in. In so many of these cases, these students never had a shot. And they often knew it from the beginning. So we ask them, “Why did you apply? Why did you waste your Early card on a school you knew was impossible? Why didn’t you use it on a school like Cornell, which would have been a reach school but just might have been possible had you applied Early?” Their answer? It typically goes, “I didn’t want to wonder throughout the rest of my life if I could have gotten into Harvard. Now I know.” Now you know. The more you know! And now it’s going to be so much tougher to get into the likes of Cornell because contrary to the words of Mr. Barnard, it is absolutely a game of diminishing returns. A student’s best chance of getting into the best school possible is always by applying Early and any advice to the contrary is, well, malarkey.

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