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The Ivy Coach Daily

December 8, 2020

Early Applications to Elite Universities Are Up Big

Ivy Coach’s crystal ball forecasts soaring Early Decision / Early Action applications at our nation’s elite universities (photo credit: Justin Ennis).

At this time in December, we’ve typically reported on more Early Action / Early Decision application figures at our nation’s highly selective universities. Thus far this year, we’ve only reported on Early application figures at Duke University, the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Boston College. And why? Because, well, 2020 is a year like no other. But you didn’t need us to tell you that. You haven’t left your home since early March except to drop your child off at a test center to sit for the SAT. We kid, we kid. In any case, many highly selective universities haven’t yet reported Early application figures. Yet our sources have indicated to us that there is a clear trend.

We Anticipate an Over 36% Increase in ED Applications at Cornell

When press releases come out in the days and weeks to come on Early Action / Early Decision admissions statistics, you’re going to see that Early applications are up dramatically at the vast majority of our nation’s highly selective universities. As an example, last year at Cornell University, 6,616 students applied under the school’s binding Early Decision policy to the Class of 2024. This year, we expect the school will soon release to the public that over 9,000 students applied to the Class of 2025 through Early Decision. By our arithmetic, that’s over 36% increase in Early applications. Yes, 36%!

The Squeakers Are to Blame for Skyrocketing Early Applications at Our Nation’s Elite Universities

And why do we anticipate — with the help of Ivy Coach’s famously accurate crystal ball — such increases in the Early pools at our nation’s highly selective universities? Because of what we’ll call the overshoting squeakers. Yes, the squeakers: students who had no business applying to the highly selective university to which they applied Early this year but thought they might be able to squeak in without test scores because these schools went test-optional. And while there are squeakers every year, we anticipate that a record number of foolish squeakers applied this Early cycle thinking they just might have a chance. But, rest assured, these squeakers do not have a chance. So, oh qualified students and their parents, don’t be so worried about soaring application figures and declining admission rates this year. More applications and lower admission rates do not alone correlate with a more competitive cycle. As an extreme example, more C students applying to Harvard do not make the Harvard applicant pool more competitive.

The Squeakers Didn’t Understand Game Theory

You see, these overshooting squeakers misunderstood the words of our esteemed former First Lady Michelle Obama. They seem to have interpreted her words as, “When they go high, we go high…and then we get rejected.” Or perhaps they misinterpreted the game theory research of the late former Princeton professor John Nash. These squeakers thought they’d be the only ones to apply to these schools in spite of their not so impressive credentials. “7 B’s? Maybe Yale will overlook it since there’s a pandemic and all,” they thought. And yet so many of them are soon going to learn that such a plan was foolish. As Professor Nash would argue, they all went after the same girl — and they will end up with nothing to show for it. Instead, they should have gone after a girl who was a reach for them but not an impossible reach. If they played by such rules, well, they’d have something to show for it. Clearly these squeakers didn’t understand basic principles of game theory.

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