Who should read this post: anybody applying to college in the fall of 2017; anybody using U.S. News and its proxies for data; anybody who likes to watch trend lines.
So here we go, College Class of 2022: the e-mails and envelopes went out in March and April, and most who are going on to a college campus in the fall of 2017 (a.k.a. the Class of 2021) have now accepted an offer–and with that the first comprehensive data has been released. The big takeaway on the data so far this year is . . . well, it’s two-part: 1) After a couple of years of plateauing at most schools, applications are up overall at elite and super-elite schools, in some cases way up, and 2) Early applicants are admitted at a far higher rate than regular applicants.
Of course, it will be some time before I can get good data to compare early decision/early action applicants to regular applicants, but in the past GPA and test data have been very similar. This reinforces how putting a big, early bet on your dream college can pay off–though this comes with some caveats. The first caveat is that this trend has been clear for years, and some schools will enroll roughly half of their incoming class from early decision, single-choice early decision and other early applications. This is partly due to the high rate of early app admissions which I have just noted (for some numbers look below), and partly due to the high yield on those who are accepted–there is a sense of genuine commitment from both sides in the early app as a category.
Let me add a final caveat about early apps: you might double or even triple your chances of admissions via an early app, but we are still talking something like 14.5 % for early vs. about 5% for regular apps at, for example, Harvard–so the early app at a super-selective college is still admitted well below the 30% or so average for good but not big-name universities. It’s still a game of margins in a highly competive contest for a seat at a super elite.
Before I get to the data, let me just add that if any of the jargon above is obscure to you (Early Decisions, etc) then you might want to click this link to visit my other website for a quick tutorial: on college app jargon.
Oh, and one more thing: the big services, like U.S. News, are always a year or more behind the trend curve because they do not revise their data until the Common Data Sets are reported by the universities to the government, which will not be until after Yield is known, next October or so. You will see that most sites will use data that is one to two years old and most books use data that is two to three years old, as of this spring; I prefer to use the bleeding edge when it comes to college application data, and to fill in the blanks as I go. (See below for more on what Yield is).
New Data on College Admissions
And now here is some of the latest data (as of early May, 2017) on college admissions at elite names and a few local favorites:
Admissions Data 2016-2017
Format: School/Application Total/Admits total/%Admits accepted
U Penn: 40,413/3,699/9.15%
**Columbia numbers attained informally from a Columbia rep, not as an official press release.
Compare these numbers to a sampling of early applications:
Early Applications Data
School–Early App Total/Accepted/%Admitted
To understand the impact of these numbers, compare the admits in early apps to the regular apps, and consider this one additional number: The 555 admitted early to Dartmouth are expected to compose about 47% of the entire incoming class for next year–the “about” is due to the uncertainty about how many total students will accept the offer (known as Yield, just to add another piece of jargon).
So there you go for my first report on data for the super-elite Ivies. When you do your math, this should include a good subset of colleges with easier admits. Don’t reach for the stars unless you have a good safety net, please.
I will be following up with early data on the University of California–U.C.L.A. was over 100,000 apps this year–and other local and national favorites.
And my college application essay seminars in the greater Bay Area start in Lafayette on June 9th, 2017. Contact me for details.