5 Things to Know About Early Decision in a Pandemic

The 2020 Pandemic continues to impact college admission models. As seniors weigh their application options, it is worthwhile to consider how the Early Decision (ED) might help them gain acceptance to the college of their choice.

If you are new to the college admission process, ED is a plan where you apply early to a college, typically by November 1st and you receive an answer from the school in early December. This is a binding application and if admitted, you are obligated to attend. You can only apply to one college under this plan, so students use it as an opportunity to show the love at their first choice school and hopefully increase the chance of receiving an acceptance letter.

One takeaway from the pandemic is that schools will be leaning on their ED plans to try and eliminate some of the uncertainty that they are facing in the COVID-19 era and stabilize their numbers for the class of 2024.

Here are a few things to think about*:

  1. The admit rate for ED is typically higher than the Regular Decision (RD) rate. For example, the RD rate at Colgate University for the class of 2023 was 20.1% but the ED acceptance rate was 46.4%.
  2. Many selective schools fill half of their class in the ED round, making the RD round more selective than it might seem.  The winner in this category last year was Bates College. They took 70.3% of their freshman class in the ED round. Their ED admit rate was 42.4% and their RD rate was 8.7%
  3. Some schools use ED to boost their statistics and lower their admit rate. The biggest discrepancy here is at Colby College. They fill 64.6% of their freshman class from the ED round, with an admit rate of 43.4% but in the RD round only lets in 7.6% of applicants. If you are applying RD it is quite selective.
  4. Many schools include their recruited athletes in the ED round, but that is not indicated in the statistics.
  5. If you are waiting to see where you might be eligible for a merit scholarship, a binding ED application plan might not be the best choice. There will not be an opportunity to compare offers from other schools. When you are accepted, you are required to withdraw all of your other applications.

*All data gratefully sourced from Jennie Kent & Jeff Levy at bigjeducationalconsulting.com


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