Expert opinions on the college admissions process!
Ask the Dean
Read answers to questions about the college admissions process, financial aid, and college search by College Confidential’s resident expert!
Search from over 3 million scholarships worth more than $13 billion.
We'll help you estimate your AI, which is used by some schools to summarize the academic
accomplishments of applicants.
College affordability is important for just about everyone these days, and it's handy to
get an idea of how much aid you might be eligible for.
Join for FREE,
and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions,
Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky
welcome messages (like this one!)
Cornell Sees 10 Percent Boom in Early Decision Applications
A record number of 5,384 students applied early decision for admission to Cornell’s Class of 2021, representing a 10.3 percent increase from last year, according to Jason Locke, associate vice provost for enrollment.
This year’s numbers broke the record, set last year by the early decision Class of 2020. Locke noted that this growing number of applicants represents the continuation of a general trend — Cornell’s early decision pool has increased by 78 percent within the past decade.
“With a smart, focused recruitment strategy in place, we have been experiencing a general upward trend in applications for many years,” he said.
Columbia University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, also saw their biggest influx of early applicants yet.
Of these applicants to Cornell, 25.6 percent were admitted — a smaller fraction than last year, when the University accepted 27.4 percent of applicants, and 2015, when it took 26.1 percent.
In addition to growing larger, the early decision pool has also become more diverse throughout the years, according to Locke.
“The University experienced increases in early decision applications across all racial and ethnic groups and across almost every region of the United States,” he said.
Locke said 50.1 percent of admits were women and 14.4 percent were international students. In addition, 35 percent of students admitted were students of color — a group that includes African American, Asian American, Native American, Latinx and multicultural students.
Legacy students make up 23.3 percent of early admits and athletes make up 13.4 percent, he added.
Locke also pointed out that this year’s applicants were the first to submit the new SAT, which was revised in 2014 and was first administered this spring.
Forty-four percent of applicants submitted the new exam, while 35 percent submitted the old and 53 percent chose to take the ACT, Locke said, adding that many students choose to submit more than one test.
The University plans to notify its regular decision applicants — who have just under a month to complete their applications — on March 30, according to Locke.
Early Decision Applications Up More than 16%
Wesleyan received 742 applications for early decision this fall, an increase of 16.6 percent over last year. The increase of more than 100 applications provided Wesleyan with its biggest pool ever in early decision, according to Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid.
Additionally, Wesleyan received the most ever applications from international students, up 75 percent. Other diversity measures were also strong, with a 44 percent increase from students of color in the United States and a 56 percent increase from African American students.
“These results are most gratifying,” Meislahn said. “Potential applicants hold Wesleyan in high regard and to have so many see Wesleyan as their first and only choice should make us all proud.”
The early decision application increase follows a substantial jump last year in applications overall. For the class of 2020 entering this fall, 12,026 students had applied, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year and a 10 percent increase over the previous all-time high three years ago for the Class of 2017.
This year, Barnard College received the largest number of Early Decision applications in our history, 674, representing an increase of just over 40% from five years ago and 12% from last year. The overall quality of application was incredibly strong and the applicants continue to be independent-minded and intellectually driven.
Applicants came from 31 states and 17 countries, with perspectives and profiles as diverse as their geography.
Early Decision enrollees will likely make up nearly 40% of our first year class (we also defer and deny applications in Early Decision*), so students who are sure Barnard is the right choice for them should consider applying early.
* Applicants deferred to our Regular Decision process typically represent 1/5 - 1/6 of our early pool.
938 admitted early to College Class of 2021
Applications for early action at Harvard College rose 5 percent this year to 6,473, and 14.5 percent, or 938 students, were admitted to the Class of 2021. Last year, 6,167 applied early, and 14.8 percent, or 914 students, were admitted.
“Early admission appears to be the ‘new normal’ now, as more students are applying early to Harvard and peer institutions than ever before,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “At the same time, we have continued to stress to applicants, their families, and their guidance counselors that there is no advantage in applying early to Harvard. The reason students are admitted — early or during the regular action process — is that their academic, extracurricular, and personal strengths are extraordinary.”
The admissions committee is careful to ensure that only those students who are, in Fitzsimmons’ words, “100 percent certain” to be admitted in regular action are admitted early. “This is particularly important because in recent years we have received record numbers of applications,” said Fitzsimmons. Last year, 39,041 students applied for admission to the Class of 2020. Ten years ago, 22,754 students applied for admission to the Class of 2010.
The demographics for the Class of 2021 early action group are similar to last year’s group. Slightly more women (48.0 vs. 47.4 percent) make up the new class thus far, and more African-American students were admitted (12.6 percent vs. 9.5 percent last year). In addition, 21.7 percent of admitted students identify as Asian-American (compared with 24.1 percent last year), 8.8 percent as Latinos (vs. 9.5 percent), and 1.1 percent as Native American and Native Hawaiian (vs. 1.6 percent).
Geographic patterns were also similar, although there were somewhat more admitted students from the Midwest and Mountain states and fewer from the South and the West. Intended academic concentrations were similar, although there were slightly more humanists and social scientists this year.
“Financial aid remained critically important to prospective Harvard students. Many used Harvard’s easy-to-use net price calculator to determine that Harvard was a realistic possibility for them,” said Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. More of those admitted early this year were estimated by staff to have high financial need, and slightly higher numbers of first-generation college students were admitted (8.7 percent vs. 8.2 percent).