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SCEA is a sucker bet because by the time you factor out the athletes, legacies, and hooked kids, the chance of admittance for the average superstar is barely any better. SCEA may bump you from a 3% chance to a 4 or 5% chance.
Harvard does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Early Action pools. For any individual student, the final decision will be the same whether the student applies Early Action or Regular Decision.
But then you miss out on any ED schools or any of the large number of great private schools with EA or early scholarship deadlines.
SCEA may bump you from a 3% chance to a 4 or 5% chance.
That kid with the 5% chance at HYP maybe has a 30-40% chance of getting a large merit award at USC but can't apply in time for the deadline. That's a sucker bet.