The college admissions process and landscape can be incredibly confusing. There are a lot of moving parts! You have to consider your GPA, test scores (if you have them), personal statements, supplemental essays, scholarships, housing, majors, graduation rates… the list goes on! One of the most common questions our clients ask us is, “What’s the deal with early action/decision submissions?” Or, perhaps more specifically, “Do I have a better chance of gaining acceptance if I apply early?”
The answer is as nuanced as the holistic review process, but in short: yes, colleges tend to accept larger percentages of applicants from early action and early decision pools than regular decision pools. You can learn more about the difference between early action and early decision deadlines here. Applying early is a way for applicants to demonstrate heightened interest in their top-choice school(s), especially if they’re applying via early decision, which is a binding agreement (i.e. if you are accepted, you are expected to confirm attendance and withdraw all other pending applications immediately).
We crunched the numbers based on official data for the Class of 2025, and here is a list of 10 Elite Colleges Where Early Applicants Have a Leg Up.
|School||Types of Early Application Deadlines||Percent of Early Applicants Accepted||Percent of Applicants Accepted Overall||Number of Early Applicants||Number of Early Applicants Accepted||Number of Regular Decision Applicants||Number of Regular Decision Applicants Accepted||Grand Total Number of Applicants||Grand Total Number of Applicants Accepted||Increased Odds of Gaining Acceptance if Applying Early|
|Brown University||Early Decision||15.97%||5.4%||5,540||885||41,028||1,652||46,568||2,537||Almost 4 times more likely|
|Dartmouth||Early Decision||21.2%||6.17%||2,664||591||25,693||1,158||28,357||1,749||Almost 5 times more likely|
|Duke University||Early Decision||24%||5.8%||5,036||840||44,481||1,174||49,517||2,014||6 times more likely|
|Harvard||Restrictive Early Action||7%||3.4%||9,406||745||48,029||1,223||57,435||1,968||3 times more likely|
|MIT||Early Action||7.4%||4%||15,036||719||18,204||621||33,240||1,340||1.4 times more likely|
|Notre Dame||Restrictive Early Action||21%||14.6%||7,744||1,673||15,893||1,773||23,637||3,446||Almost 2 times more likely|
|Rice||Early Decision||23%||9%||2,635||478||26,909||2,324||29,544||2,802||2 times more likely|
|University of Pennsylvania||Early Decision||15%||2.5%||7,961||1,183||48,371||2,121||56,332||3,304||3 times more likely|
|Vanderbilt||Early Decision, Early Decision II||24%||6.7%||5,049||914||42,125||2,248||47,174||3,162||3 times more likely|
|Yale||Restrictive Early Action||10.5%||4.6%||7,939||837||38,966||952||46,905||1,789||4 times more likely|