benefits from applying under each of these
students whose academic records are unlikely to improve in their
senior year and who are happy with their board scores should
seriously consider applying early. It will
clarify how well your strategy fits your academic record and can
materially improve your odds.
- Early Decision
- Students with one or two clear first choice
schools who are willing to make a binding commitment to
attend by January 1.
- Legacy candidates. Today, colleges
try to balance their desire to continue the involvement of
their most loyal alumni families with increasing political scrutiny
of how well they maintain access to all applicants. Applicants with
a family connection to the institution can demonstrate
their desire to maintain that tradition by
applying early and accepting a binding offer.
- Students whose families don't worry about
financial aid eligibility. That is, students with
strong academic records whose family contributions will clearly be
small under any circumstances OR
student from families who are not applying for financial
aid. Unfortunately, there's lots of anecdotal evidence that
many colleges are more generous with financial aid to students who
have been accepted in later non-binding admission
rounds. CollegeLab is
very reluctant to endorse Early Decision to families whose
college costs could be substantially different at different schools
and who want to maintain their ability to negotiate a financial aid
package. For most applicants. there's not enough improvement in the
odds of admission under Early Decision to justify being stuck with
a bad financial aid package.
- If Early Decision had been an
arrangement that had equal benefits for students and colleges, then
no one would have created or souhgt out Early Action programs.
- Early Action
- Students who want to know
early which schools or types of schools will be most receptive to
their applications and who want to use that feedback to alter their
strategy for regular season applications.
- Single Action Early Action
- If you are an exceptionally strong applicant, for
example, and you're willing to forego applying early anywhere
else, there is simply no more reliable way to apply.
In the 2003-2004 applicant pool, Harvard, for
example, accepted 23.3% of its Early Action applicants; but
only 7.1% of its regular applicants.
Many people say it's remarkable that Harvard, Yale,
Princeton and Stanford now accept only 1 applicant in
10. Very few observers
notice the impact of early applications at those and
other very competitive schools. Harvard, for example
again, accepted roughly 1 in 4 early applicants. That
means that in the regular season, Harvard could accept only 1
in 14 regular applicants! Note the early
applicants to these schools are then free to apply anywhere
else they want in the regular application season and
respond to their early action school by May 1.
- Students who
want to take advantage of all the resources of a large state
university and in-state tuition.
- Students for
whom a state college is an appealing safety school and who
want to have a "safety" acceptance early in the process.