The Significant Early Advantage

There are those who argue that there is not a significant advantage in applying to a school through an Early Decision or Early Action policy. Their argument typically goes something like this: “The statistics are misleading, deceptive even. The Early round is filled with recruited athletes, legacies, and/or development cases. So of course these students earn admission at increased odds.” It’s an argument that grabs a lot of headlines and we can’t count how many folks over the years — who are not our clients — who have asserted to us that there is no advantage to applying in the Early round. We try not to correct them. You see, some people just don’t want to be corrected; they’d rather be wrong.

Many Argue It’s Not Easier to Get In During the Early Round

Along these lines, there’s a recent article up on Yahoo! News by Alexandra Pannoni and Ilana Kowarski that highlights the views of some of these anti-Early folks. As they write in their piece entitled “What It Takes to Get Into the Ivy League,” “Early applicants to Ivy League schools are admitted more often than regular applicants. The explanation for this difference is that early applicants tend to have more competitive credentials than applicants who submit their materials later, according to Ivy League admissions officials. Brown University, for example, includes the following disclaimer on its undergraduate admissions website: ‘Our pool of early applicants tends to include a very high proportion of exceptionally talented students and a higher rate of admission for Early Decision applicants reflects that phenomenon. It does not imply an automatic advantage for all early candidates. We admit Early Decision applicants only when we are confident that we would offer them admission as a Regular Decision applicant.’ Dartmouth College provides a similar disclaimer on its website.”

That Argument Is Utter Nonsense

But, Ivy Coach, are you suggesting that these schools aren’t telling it like it is, that they really do offer an advantage to Early applicants? You bet we are! You see, it’s always best to apply to a highly selective college — and no more so than this year — when they’re most insecure. These schools are most insecure in the Early round since they don’t have the advantage of seeing how many students apply in the Regular Decision round nor can they gauge the competitiveness of the incoming RD pool. When a school is most insecure, they’re more likely to be lenient, to overlook that B+ in AP Chemistry. And with respect to the argument that recruited athletes, legacies, and/or development cases tend to apply Early, that is absolutely true. But what’s the alternative? Applying in the RD round against talented first-generation college students, underrepresented minorities, low-income students, and more? How exactly is it easier to get in during the RD round? We know. Crickets.


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