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How to get an “Unfair” Advantage into the Ivy League + MIT/Stanford

posted Jan 24, 2010, 10:59 PM by Mark A. Hsu   [ updated Dec 13, 2010, 7:38 PM by Chuang Tina ]

Students and parents (and unfortunately many school counselors) are often unfamiliar with the Early Round (Early Action or Early Decision) option at many of America’s elite schools. We have crunched the data on the Early Round vs. Regular Decision admission rates, which should show you that whenever possible, you should apply to EA/ED.


Six Ivy League Schools offer the Early Action option. They are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn and Yale.
 
Overall Early Round Estimated Regular Decision
Class of 2013 Admit Applied % Admit Applied % Admit Applied % ER/RD
Brown 2,708 24,988 10.84 551 2,343 23.52% 2,157 22,645 9.53% 2.47
Dartmouth 2,184 18,130 12.05 401 1,550 25.87% 1,783 16,580 10.75% 2.41
Columbia 2,497 25,428 9.82 594 2,945 20.17% 1,903 22,483 8.46% 2.38
Yale 1,951 26,000 7.5 742 5,556 13.35% 1,209 20,444 5.91% 2.26
Penn 3,926 22,939 17.11 1,156 3,666 31.53% 2,770 19,273 14.37% 2.19
Cornell 6,567 34,381 19.1 1,249 3,405 36.68% 5,318 30,976 17.17% 2.14
 
If you look at the admission rates for Early Round, they are significantly higher at all 6 schools. (We have developed a ratio, which we term ER/RD, which measures how great of an advantage ER applicants have.) The ER/RD ratio ranges from 2.14 (Cornell) to 2.47 (Brown). In simpler terms, it means you are 2.5x more likely to be admitted to Brown applying in ER than in RD.

Data for Stanford is equally revealing!
                Overall                  Early Round              Est. 
                                                                            Regular Decision

2013

Admit

Applied

%

Admit

Applied

%

Admit

Applied

%

ER/ED

Stanford*

2,385

30,428

7.84

689

5,363

12.85

1,696

25,065

6.77

1.90

MIT

1,597

15,661

10.2

540

5,019

10.76

1,057

10,642

9.93

1.08


Although the advantage of applying to ER for Stanford is less than the six Ivies, it is still very significant. You are twice as likely applying to ER than RD at Stanford.

The advantage is most significant when we take into context Harvard’s admission rate.
 

Class of 2013

Admit

Applied

%

Harvard

2131

29112

7.32

Princeton

2181

21964

9.93


Harvard and Princeton do not offer Early Action. The overall admission rate for Harvard is 7.32%. You would assume that Harvard being Harvard, the school should have the lowest admission rate in the U.S. But it turns out that both Yale and Stanford Regular Decision are more competitive than Harvard.

When we look at RD admission rates, Columbia and Brown are even more difficult to get in than Princeton, with MIT having nearly identical admission rates and Dartmouth a tad behind at 10.75%

*Stanford announced its 2010 EA stat on Dec. 13, 2010: 
 
 AdmittedApplied  EA admission%
 7545929 12.7 
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