The Competitive Edge of Early Decision

Early Decision Edge, Early Decision, Applying Early Decision

There was recently an editorial on Early Decision in “The New York Times” by Frank Bruni.

There’s an editorial in “The New York Times” by Frank Bruni entitled “The Plague of ‘Early Decision’” that we figured we’d discuss on the pages of our college admissions blog. We are never shy about correcting Mr. Bruni when he states inaccuracies or misleads his readers about the highly selective college admissions process, a topic he writes about extensively. And today will be no exception.

In his editorial on Early Decision, Mr. Bruni writes, “There’s plenty of evidence that applying early improves odds of admission and that the students who do so — largely to gain a competitive edge — come disproportionately from privileged backgrounds with parents and counselors who know how to game the system and can assemble the necessary test scores and references by the November deadline.” ‘Who know how to game the system?’ Mr. Bruni, how is it ‘gaming a system’ to apply by November 1st? How is it gaming a system to have one application completed two months before most other students get their acts together to first apply? Is to be organized, forward-thinking, and strategic to game a system? Please. Nonsense.

We’re actually not quite done with our rhetorical questions to Mr. Bruni. We’re just warming up! How is it gaming a system to examine clear and unequivocal data, to notice that highly selective colleges fill major portions of their incoming classes in the Early round, to see that admission rates are much more favorable if students apply by November 1st? Is making decisions based on data gaming a system? If so, Mr. Bruni, don’t bother watching baseball (Billy Beane who?). Don’t watch college football. Don’t go to a hospital if you’re in need of care and certainly don’t invest in the stock market. Our world operates on data and the suggestion that college applicants who apply Early Decision because the data suggests this is a wise move is gaming a system is just plain preposterous. Choose your words more carefully, Mr. Bruni.