Early Decision, Visualized

Updated: Apr 8

Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Real College Matters

As I labor over my efforts to articulate why a proactive approach to the college search is important both practically and developmentally, I’ll let some numbers speak for themselves.

Whether we like it or not, Early Decision is incredibly important to the student who prioritizes admissibility to a particular institution. The published numbers, in my opinion, do not tell the whole story. The admit rates for binding early applicants are sometimes not much higher than those for regular decision. But if you make some reasonable assumptions about targeted class size, the composition of the incoming class tells a different story. Look at the pie charts and compare the percentage of the applicants which were ED to a best-guess portion of seats they’ll occupy in the class (in blue).

As ever, I hope to work against the sense of scarcity which fuels the app frenzy and demonstrate that everyone has decisions to make. ED is only the right path if admission is the priority. Our family won’t exercise an Early Decision application for our kids because of the attendant financial commitment….but every family looks a little different on paper, so it can work for other people. The point is, we’re not going to be miserable about it either way.

(I’ve never worked in an office of admissions but have worked hard to understand the data. If any of you have such experience and see flaws in my reasoning, I would appreciate an email with the information you have. See caption for more info.)

More later!


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