Reflections on the EA/ED Decisions

I have been thinking about how to write this piece and talk about the part of the admission cycle where colleges release decisions to students that applied either on a binding Early Decision (ED) plan or a non-binding Early Action (EA) plan. I procrastinated because I did not know where to start. Posting the definition of chaos felt like the right starting point, so here goes…

I knew something was off earlier this month. When students started to receive decisions from Auburn, it left college counselors scratching their heads. I did not have any EA applicants at Auburn, but I paid close attention. Auburn had a 115% increase in applications compared to the same point in time last year and they were deferring students that one would expect them to admit. This was a harbinger of things to come.

I had several highly qualified students that applied EA to the University of South Carolina. We had pegged this as a likely school to admit them and we took advantage of the early plan to have an acceptance before Christmas. All of my students were deferred. And at that point, I knew we were in for a wild ride.

I continued to see strong students deferred at every type of school, reach, target and likely, public and private. Schools like the University of Vermont, were deferring qualified candidates and telling them that if they wanted to be considered in the Regular Decision round, they needed to submit another writing piece. This is an entirely new approach in the UVM admissions playbook.

The selective colleges with binding Early Decision plans always have low acceptance rates, but when large state schools like Auburn, South Carolina and Vermont are deferring students that in other years were likely to have been accepted, it left me shaking my head.

I saw plenty of acceptances too! It was not all doom and gloom. But it was difficult to make sense of who was admitted, deferred or denied. I feel like the colleges might have been overwhelmed with applications and this was reflected in the decisions they made.

By the end of the day on December 16th, I breathed a sigh of relief when the last of my comprehensive students received an early acceptance. If you have a senior applying to college and you think they should expand their list, it might be a good year to let them go ahead and send out a few more applications. I would imagine that this chaotic landscape will continue into the spring.

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