The Ivy Coach Daily

February 4, 2018

Princeton’s Single Choice Early Action Policy

Princeton SCEA, Admission to Princeton, Princeton 2022
Princeton instated an Early Action program in 2011.

In 2006, Princeton University along with Harvard University and the University of Virginia eliminated their Early programs. Princeton and Virginia eliminated their Early Decision programs, while Harvard eliminated its Early Action program — all in the hope of attracting students from a larger socio-economic cross-section of the world. But when other universities, including other Ivy League universities, did not follow their example, the schools chose to reinstate Early programs in 2011 — albeit all three instated Early Action programs. Princeton and Harvard chose to instate Single Choice Early Action programs. The University of Virginia chose to instate a non-restrictive Early Action program. If you’ve been reading our college admissions blog since 2006 (wow!), then you know we at Ivy Coach had some thoughts on the elimination and ultimate reinstatement of Early programs at these universities. As we’ve long asserted, Early Decision and Early Action programs are not programs that unfairly advantage the wealthy. We’ve been debunking such assertions for over a quarter of a century — and we vow to keep at it!

Princeton’s Single Choice Early Action Policy

A great piece out today written by Mallory Williamson in “The Daily Princetonian,” the newspaper of Princeton University, focuses on trends in the Early data at Princeton since the school’s Single Choice Early Action program was instituted. As she writes, “The University’s SCEA program has proven to be increasingly popular since it was instituted in 2011. Overall, SCEA acceptance rates have decreased slightly over the same time period. In the first year of SCEA, 3443 students applied and 726 were accepted for a 21 percent acceptance rate. The SCEA admission rate dropped to 18.3 percent in 2012 — the lowest until the then-record low of 15.4 percent last year — before rising slightly to 18.5 percent in 2013, 19.9 percent in 2014, and 18.6 percent in 2015. The SCEA acceptance rate for the Class of 2022 was 14.7 percent, the lowest ever.”

Williamson continues, “The general trend of increasing selectivity in the University’s early admissions is driven by a ballooning application pool. The most recent SCEA pool saw a 56.9 percent increase in size over the first pool in 2011, but only 10.1 percent more applicants were admitted. Notably, the SCEA admission rate is significantly higher than the regular decision admit rate. Last year, 15.4 percent of SCEA applicants were accepted while only 4.3 percent of regular decision applicants gained admission to the University — a staggering 358 percent difference.”

The Advantage of Applying in the Early Round

To those students who choose not to apply in the Early round, we just don’t get your decision-making. The odds of getting into a highly selective school are so much stronger in the Early round than in the Regular round — as the statistics at Princeton so indicate. And to those folks who are quick to rebut, “But the statistics are misleading. The Early round is filled with legacies and recruited athletes,” we say hogwash. Yes, legacy applicants and recruited athletes are among the applicants in the Early round at highly selective colleges. But if the argument is that the Early round favors the privileged elite, then by that logic the Regular round is filled with underprivileged students, underrepresented minorities, first-generation students, etc. So how is it easier to earn admission in the Regular Decision round exactly? …Bueller. Bueller.

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