We firmly believe that only crazy students don’t apply Early Decision or Early Action. The odds of getting in through the Early Decision or Early Action round (depending on the college’s policy) are so much stronger than are the odds of getting in during the Regular Decision round. Just look at the statistics at the University of Pennsylvania if you’re unaware of the drastic difference in a student’s chances of admission in the Early round as compared to the Regular round. Does the University of Pennsylvania value its Early Decision applicants? You bet they do. They love students who love them.
And the University of Pennsylvania is not alone. All colleges want to be loved. They’re insecure like that. Applying Early gives them a sense of security. Because when you apply Early Decision, you make a binding commitment to that school that you will attend. And that of course helps the school’s yield since 100% of students (with a couple of rare exceptions) who are admitted Early Decision will matriculate. It’s important to know that yield indirectly impacts a school’s “US News & World Report” ranking, which is fundamentally important to the admissions offices at every single highly selective college (no matter what it is they tell you about rankings). In Regular Decision, these schools have to sway students to choose them, to love them over other schools. If a school has an Early Decision policy, they don’t have to sway any admitted students about anything. They have that sense of security in that way.
Too non-commital to commit to a school in the Early round? Get over it and get over it fast.
And for those schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford that have Single Choice Early Action policies, most students who are admitted in the Early round will end up attending, even though it isn’t a binding commitment. Most folks don’t turn down Harvard. So, yes, a student has better odds of getting into these four universities if he or she applies Early too.
To not apply Early Decision or Early Action…it’s nuts. You have to make a commitment to one school in the end anyway. Why not do it in the Early round when the odds are ever more in your favor, to paraphrase from “The Hunger Games”?