11 Feb International News Break: Decline in Early College Applicants

Has early decision (ED) and early action (EA) hit its popularity limit?

Just last year US colleges and universities recorded an all time high at the number of ED and EA applications, but just one year later, we’ve already begun to see a decline. Applying ED and EA is alluring because of the higher chance of acceptance given an obvious show of commitment and less competition for a spot. It’s the closest thing to “first come, first serve” that non-rolling college applications have. But just as students were really being lured into the appeal of early college acceptance, the class of 2024 has brought a stark change. 

Dartmouth and Emory indicated a decrease in the number of international students in their early pools. UPenn hinted that the change in the admissions application – requiring two shorter essays instead of one slightly longer supplement – is a hypothesis for the cause of their decrease. Harvard’s dean attributed the university’s results to economic uncertainty worldwide and a plateauing of the number of high school students in the U.S., among other factors.

So what now? Even though the full picture is incomplete, given that several schools have made it policy to not disclose their ED and EA statistics, there is some thought that the volume of regular decision applicants might follow the same decline. Regardless of the final number of regular decision applicants, there will probably be higher risk of security on returns in this year’s admissions cycle. This will be due to the increasing practice of colleges’ assessment of who, among their regular decision applicants, will have the highest yield probability (accept a place and graduate).