As Early Admissions Rise, So Does Pressure

“We are not going to lie to them when we see schools that have drastically different acceptances rates for early decision or regular,” Wong said.

Learner noted that at The Benjamin School nearly a third of students will apply early decision to a college, and well over half the class will apply under some type of early program.

Goodman said the push for students to start applications earlier affects Harvard, even though the University uses a single choice early action program, under which a student may not apply to another college but is not bound to matriculate to Harvard.


“If everybody is preparing earlier, then that changes the landscape for everybody, including Harvard,” Goodman said.


Fitzsimmons said that although there are generally still some differences demographically between the type of students applying early versus those who apply regular decision, the diversity of the early pool is becoming more diverse.

“While our early pool is still not representative of the rest of what the class is going to look like, it’s certainly more so than was the case in the past,” Fitzsimmons said in an interview.

Addressing concerns that the regular admissions rate is far lower than the early admissions rate, Fitzsimmons said that students have the same chance of getting in no matter the time they apply and will receive the same thorough review of their applications during both processes. In addition, he noted that the early action pool is a generally stronger academically and extracurricularly.

While this year saw 992 early acceptances, Fitzsimmons said that his office has always been careful and conservative about early admissions decisions.

“It would be foolish, for a [college] to admit [students early] and not leave enough space for terrific kids,” Fitzsimmons said.

Gay S. Pepper, former associate dean of admission at the University of Pennsylvania and current college counselor, said that she applauds Harvard’s early action program as a “godsend for kids.”