This week, the Admissions Blog conducted an interview with Anna Ivey, the founder of the college admissions consulting firm Ivey Consulting and co-author of the book, “How to Prepare a Standout College Application: Expert Advice that Takes You from LMO* (*Like Many Others) to Admit.”
Admissions Blog: Why do most early action and early decision students decide to apply to college early?
Anna Ivey: In my experience, the students who are best suited for early action or early decision, are [the] ones who have very good track records from their previous years in high school. So their academics are in really good shape, their extracurriculars are in really good shape, and they’re not so dependent on their senior year in high school to kind of move their track record in a different direction. So for example, someone who still needs to work on academics or getting some of their test scores, or accomplish a bit more in the extracurricular world outside the classroom—that person might benefit from applying later in the cycle in the regular pool because then you have more of a track record you can present yourself with.
AB: When do you think it is advantageous for a student to apply to a college early?
AI: One of the things [admissions officers] have to care about, both in terms of their job and in terms of their rankings, is called “yield”. And yield is basically the amount of people who accept a school’s offer. You as the applicant take that concern off the table by committing yourself, Because if you get admitted there you will go, and so they have no yield concern over you. But really the action programs that aren’t binding in any way or that are not single choice—they don’t really have any implication one way or the other for yield.
AB: What are the disadvantages?
AI: If you commit yourself to a binding early decision program you are forgoing opportunities to apply elsewhere and that might matter not so much on the admissions side—maybe that is your true first choice, and you get in and that’s fantastic—but you might be trading off an opportunity to see what other financial aid offers you might be able to receive.
AB: What timeline should students who are applying early follow?
AI: The early deadlines tend to be in November—sometimes schools have multiple rounds of early [admission] but the first ones tend to be in November. And it’s always very important to look up and confirm what those deadlines are for any one of your schools and make sure those are calendared appropriately and you keep track of them. And they you really want to work backwards from there. Ideally you don’t want to wait until the fall of your senior year to go looking for colleges. I think if you can start your college touring and your college research before the summer of your senior year, then you’re going to be in the best shape to make the decision of whether to apply early.
AB: What does it mean when you get deferred?
AI: Being deferred into the regular pool from the early pool is not a terrible outcome. It does not mean that you don’t have a shot, it’s not a courtesy deferral to spare your feelings and in fact if you even look at Harvard’s statistics from the class of 2016, they deferred nearly two thirds of the early applicants. If you get deferred from the early pool to the regular pool, treat that as an opportunity, not as a liability.
—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @zohradyaqhubi.