Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s early admissions cycle has set new records for the country’s most prestigious post-secondary schools. As anyone hoping to begin college in fall 2021 is likely aware, all schools with an early application program released their early acceptance decisions within the past few weeks. Any student who applied early action or early decision has now been accepted, rejected, or deferred to the regular admissions cycle. (This earlier blog post explains the early action and early decision application options, if you need more information).
Interestingly, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, schools in the Ivy League received a record number of early admission applications this year. As a result, their acceptance rates are historically low. Here are the early acceptance rates for colleges in the Ivy League for the Class of 2025, in alphabetical order:
- Brown University
- Early acceptance rate: 15.9%
- Number of early acceptances: 885
- Number of early applications: 5,540
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 22%
- Columbia University
- Early acceptance rate: 9.9%
- Number of early acceptances: 650
- Number of early applications: 6,435
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 49%
- Cornell University
- Cornell no longer releases detailed early or regular cycle application or admission statistics publicly.
- Dartmouth College
- Early acceptance rate: 21.2%
- Number of early acceptances: 566
- Number of early applications: 2,664
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 29%
- Harvard University
- Early acceptance rate: 7.4%
- Number of early acceptances: 747
- Number of early applications: 10,086
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 57%
- Princeton University
- Princeton suspended its early admission option this year, allegedly to reduce pressure on applicants whose senior years were already made more difficult by the pandemic
- University of Pennsylvania
- Early acceptance rate: 15%
- Number of early acceptances: 1,194
- Number of early applications: 7,962
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 23%
- Yale University
- Early acceptance rate: 10.5%
- Number of early acceptances: 837
- Number of early applications: 7,939
- Increase in early applications over previous year: 38%
There are several theories for this historic and unprecedented spike in early applications. We believe that at least some students decided to apply to more colleges early in an effort to compensate for the lack of certainty during this tumultuous time. After all, receiving admissions decisions and committing to a school early allows students to have a clear path forward, with more time to make decisions regarding finances and any time away from school. Students may have also had more time to devote to crafting their college applications, due to the fact that so many extracurricular activities, like sports events, were cancelled.
As the Wall Street Journal explains, another possible cause is that many schools – including all of those in the Ivy League – are not requiring that SAT or ACT scores be included in application packages this year. As a result, some students may have felt that they had a better chance of getting accepted into a selective college, so they applied when they would have ordinarily not. Some colleges have further theorized that their virtual outreach events were more accessible to a wider audience, compared to in-person campus visits.
Whatever the cause, there are two considerations worth noting alongside this year’s early acceptance data.
First, it does not appear to be representative of other, less selective schools. The number of people who submitted a Common Application early this year actually dropped by 2%, even though the number of applications submitted was 6% higher than last year. This means that compared to the Class of 2024, slightly fewer students applied early but they applied to more colleges on average.
Second, we do not yet know the ultimate impact of this year’s large early applicant pools. Fewer students applying early to more schools makes it very difficult for admissions offices to predict who will accept an early admissions offer and, consequently, how many students they will need to admit during the regular admissions cycle. This, coupled with the fact that a large number of students deferred their 2020 enrolments due to COVID-19, means that overall admissions statistics for the Class of 2025 might be very different from other years.
It is clear that COVID-19 is impacting the college admissions process significantly and that the Ivies remain incredibly competitive. At The Ivy Dean, our mission is to help students achieve their dreams of getting into a selective college. We continue to offer premium, individualized counseling services to students and their families through Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, phone, and email. Please fill out our online contact form to learn more, or call (845) 826-5310 to book a free consultation with our expert team.