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Early Decision and Early Admissions Acceptance Rates


Does applying through early admission programs help students? According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, about 18 percent of institutions offer early decision, and about 24 percent offer early action.

Early decision is a binding decision, which means that if a student applies and is accepted with an adequate financial aid package, they have an agreement to attend that college. Early action is non-binding, which means a student may be admitted early but decide later whether or not they wish to attend that school. There is also a third option offered by some colleges – single-choice early action, which means a student may only apply early action to that single school, but may wait until regular decisions from other schools to give a final decision.

So, does applying early help students gain admission to top schools?

Let’s look at fall admissions 2011 data. The early admission data was compiled by the New York Times, and then compared to average regular admissions data. We will update the information when institutions release more admissions data from the past fall.

Early Decision (Binding)


School # Early Decision Applications ED Application Acceptance Rate Overall Acceptance Rate


Amherst 413 36.56% 16%
Bates 353 50.9% 27%
Bowdoin 561 33.7% 19%
Colgate 404 60% 32%
Columbia 3,229 19.6% 9%
Cornell 3,456 35.2% 19%
Dartmouth 1,785 24.87% 11%
George Washington 1,482 35.9% 37%
Johns Hopkins 1,330 38.95% 27%
Middlebury 682 38.7% 20%
Williams 572 40.2% 20%


Early Action (Nonbinding)


School # Early Action Applications Early Application Acceptance Rate Overall Acceptance Rate
Bard 742 75.7% 33%
Georgetown 6,655 16.8% 20%
M.I.T. 6,405 12.1% 11%
Notre Dame (Ind.) 5,300 36.6% 29%
Villanova 6,996 39.8% 46%



Single-choice Early Action


School # Early Action Applications Early Application Acceptance Rate Overall Acceptance Rate (average)
Boston College 6,200 43.6% 30%
Stanford 5,929 12.7% 8%
Yale 5,257 14.5% 8%


Overall, early decision/action does have an impact on admission rates. But students who do decide to take this route have done thorough research, probably visited the school, interviewed, and are sure of their choice. If this sounds like your own situation, consider early admissions. It may be to your advantage.


This blog post is titled, “Early decision admission rates.” It was written by Marta Casey, a writer on Top Test Prep’s team.

To learn more about Top Test Prep’s programs, call (800) 501 – Prep or visit TopTestPrep.com.

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