As Early Admissions Rise, So Does Pressure

She also said that she was sure Harvard was mindful of the types of students applying regular and would reserve sufficient spaces.

“I think that the colleges know the kind of underserved students who may have greater potential than say a student at a private probably going to be applying regular decision,” said Pepper. “So the colleges want to make sure they have plenty of space in their incoming class for these very talented kids.”

In the end, Pepper said that the non-binding early admissions programs are “pro-student” because they avoid the permanency that comes with early decision. Pepper advises students against applying early based only pressures, such as admissions rate comparisons, when they may not have finished their college search.

“[Students who are] gaming the system and not making good educational choices are not necessarily happy with their decisions,” Pepper said.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: March 27, 2014

An earlier version of a graphic accompanying this article incorrectly stated the early admissions rate for Harvard's Calss of 2018. In fact, it was 21.1 percent.