Early admissions remain a popular option for high school seniors who have their hearts set on a particular college, and the number of early admission applications every year only grows. The number of early admission acceptances can vary from year to year and depend on many factors such as the college’s admission policies, the competitiveness of the applicant pool, and the number of spaces available. While admission rates for the early rounds tend to be higher, there are other factors to consider; if there are a high number of strong applicants, colleges may be more selective in their early admission decisions.
This year, colleges across the country have experienced a shift in early admission trends which we’ll explore in detail, and the early admission results we have seen amongst our students.
Increase in early applications
Many colleges reported an increase in the number of students applying for early admission this year as competition continues to climb. The Common App reported that as of November 1, 2022, as many as 727,047 first-year applicants had applied, an increase of 26 percent from 2019–20 (the last year when data were not affected by the pandemic). This could be due to the increased certainty and stability that early admission offers to students who want to lock in their college choice early, the ease of applying to many colleges through the Common Application, and the benefit from the slightly higher early admission rates especially those for those smaller liberal arts colleges (see 2021 Early Admit vs General Admit rates below). Many colleges’ early application programs fill up to half or even more of their incoming class from their early applicant pool.
Change in acceptance rates
Some colleges have either significantly increased their acceptance rates for early applicants or done the opposite, decreasing intake. This year, Vanderbilt welcomed 24.1% of its early admission applicants, an increase from the 17.6% acceptance rate in the 2021-2022 cycle. Northeastern also experienced a rise, accepting almost 6% more early applicants than the previous year. However, some schools saw a decline in their early acceptance rates. Duke’s early admission acceptance rate saw a dip of approximately 5%, while the University of Georgia’s early acceptance rate decreased by nearly 10% compared to the 2022-2023 application cycle. While Yale’s acceptance rate hasn’t shifted much, its approach to early applicants has changed. Rather than deferring many of these initially unsuccessful early applicants to the regular decision round, it has rejected a larger portion of applications. This has been in part due to the increase in early applications over the past few years.
This year we have seen a greater diversity in the applicant pool as colleges place more priority on underrepresented or first-generation students. The Common App reported an increase in both with underrepresented minority applicants growing by 37% and first-generation applicants by 43%. 14 percent of Harvard’s early action pool comes from first-generation college backgrounds, compared with nearly 12 percent last year; and 10.8 percent are estimated to be eligible for federal Pell Grants (for those demonstrating exceptional need). Washington University in St Louis saw 12% of its early admits eligible for the Pell Grant. At Brown, there were 62 applicants accepted through the QuestBridge program for low-income and first-generation students, surpassing 54 students admitted early last year.
The number of international students has also begun to climb back to its pre-pandemic numbers. The Common App reported that the number of international applicants increased to nearly triple the rate of applicants in the United States since 2019–20 (45% versus 17%). China, India, Nigeria, Ghana, and Canada were the leading countries for international applicants.
Continued flexibility in testing requirements
In response to the pandemic, many colleges made the SAT or ACT optional or went test-optional altogether. This trend has stuck—with only 4 percent of colleges requiring standardized testing. With flexible test policies in place, the early admission option opened up to a wider pool of students who may have previously been discouraged by testing requirements.
|87% of Empowerly’s students who applied early were admitted into their top choice college.|
Empowerly’s Early Admission results
For our students who applied early, we’ve seen a high number of admissions. 87% of our students who applied early were admitted into their top choice college. Early applicants were admitted to some of the most competitive US colleges including Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, UPenn, Stanford, Caltech, Johns Hopkins, and UChicago. In total early applicants received over $1.4 million in merit scholarships.
If I plan on applying early what should I consider?
It’s important to remember that in some cases early admission is a binding agreement, meaning students who are admitted through this process are obligated to attend the college if they are accepted. When applying for early admission, it’s important to consider if the college is a good fit for you. Consider factors such as the college’s size, location, academic programs, and campus culture to determine if it’s the right fit for you.
If you are considering applying early and need help in choosing which colleges to apply to early, Empowerly’s counselors can help you develop a strategy. We can guide you throughout your college admissions journey. Book a consultation today so that we can get things started.
2021 Early vs General admit rates
|College Name||Early admit rate||General admit rate (early+regular)||Multiplier|
|Washington & Lee||48.15%||18.87%||2.55|
|University of Pennsylvania||14.86%||5.87%||2.53|
|University of Miami||64.73%||28.49%||2.27|
|Washington U. in St. Louis||29.25%||13.00%||2.25|
|Harvey Mudd College||21.44%||9.99%||2.15|
|University of Virginia||43.70%||20.74%||2.11|
|The Colorado College||29.26%||14.25%||2.05|
|University of Richmond||55.94%||28.77%||1.94|
|St. Olaf College||77.8%||47.42%||1.64|
|University of Notre Dame||24.2%||15.07%||1.60|
|Santa Clara University||82.5%||53.98%||1.53|
|Loyola Marymount University||67.1%||45.82%||1.46|