Question. Is there any logic to the way colleges’ early decision and early action plans recently played out right before the Christmas holiday? These past few weeks have been devastating to many high school students who thought the best way to get accepted to the most competitive schools was to apply early. Now that the results are out many topnotch students who were either rejected or deferred must return to the application process and start over. Is that fair?
– Jay S. Englewood
Answer. No, it’s not fair! But it’s the current state of college admissions engineered by highly selective institutions. Whether it’s the numbers game or a way to assure a good portion of a college’s enrollment for next fall the ED/EA continues to exist and results in elation for some students and depression for others. The level of competition in the top 25 schools is intense; there is far greater demand than spots in the new freshman class. Most of these schools accept far less than 20% of their applicants overall although ED/EA has often been considered a strategic option if a student’s first choice is clear. For instance Yale received 3931 applicants for early action and accepted only 649 (16%). Unfortunately, too many students base their self worth on this rejection or deferral and wonder what they could have done differently.
Consider the positive, an early deferral or rejection presents an opportunity and time for a student to seek out a perfect fit among more than several hundred schools that would be a good match. Bob Sweeny of Mamaroneck High School in New York stated it quite succinctly, “The top 25 schools have not cornered the market on a great education.”