2019 Early Application Decline

Early Decision and Early Action applications were down at many schools across America this year.

Were Early applications down this past Early Decision / Early Action cycle? If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that Early figures were down from last year, with a couple of notable exceptions like Brown University and Cornell University. In many cases, the Early figures were down from last year’s all-time record highs — with the application figures from this past Early cycle still among the highest in the history of many elite universities. So were Early figures down? Yes. Is it cause for alarm among our nation’s highly selective universities? Absolutely not.

Early Applications Were Down This Cycle

In a piece published today for Inside Higher Ed entitled “Early Decision Is Down,” Scott Jaschik writes, “Anecdotal reports have been circulating among admissions professionals that some — but not all — colleges are seeing a decline in early applications…Now there are national numbers to amplify the anecdotes. Hobsons, which runs Naviance, has released figures for early decision this year, and the numbers show a sharp decline for early decision and likely a flat year for early action…The numbers from Naviance also show that reports that black and Latino applicants are less likely than white and Asian applicants to apply early are true. Only 10 percent of early applicants this year were black (compared to 15 percent of higher education enrollments). Only 11 percent were Latino (compared to 19 percent of higher ed enrollments). In contrast, Asians made up 16 percent of early applications and are only 8 percent of total students. And whites made up 60 percent of early applications but 55 percent of students.”

This Year’s Early Application Figures in Context

And just how down are the national figures — keeping in mind that these figures include schools that are not highly selective and that the vast majority of America’s colleges aren’t particularly selective at all? This past Early cycle, 1,074,346 students submitted Early Action applications, while 121,903 submitted Early Decision applications. Last year, for the Class of 2023, these same figures stood at 1,107,381 and 171,103, respectively. Two years ago, for the Class of 2022, the figures stood at 889,998 and 138,694, respectively. So are the numbers down? Yes, absolutely. But also keep in mind that last year’s figures were all-time highs.


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