Georgetown and Vanderbilt

daughter is rising senior at highly-ranked NJ public school. White, Jewish, not 1st gen, no legacy at these places.

SAT 1530 (790/740)
GPA 4.6 W, 3.9+ UW
3 AP’s now, 3 more next year, and the rest is honors.
no class rankings. top 15%? better? not sure.

EC’s nothing spectacular: Varsity soccer (captain as senior), varsity track, officer in several clubs, DECA, Teen PEP and Senior Peers, class rep to student gov, volunteer at local public library…

Letters of rec should be solid. She is really well-liked by teachers. her personality is her strongest quality.

Anyway, Georgetown and Vanderbilt are probably her top 2 schools. G-Town does not have ED. They have EA- but if I am reading them right they restrict you from applying ED anywhere if you apply to G-Town EA. And yet EA might not be much of a boost, if any.

On the other hand, applying ED to Vanderbilt might be a boost to application chances.

So what’s the smart play, assuming she can’t decide which school she likes better, and the goal for the purposes of this exercise is just to maximize the chance of admission? Apply ED to Vanderbilt, or EA to Georgetown?

Does he have a preference for one school over the other?

I believe Vandy offers ED2 (double check) so that maybe an option as well.

In general ED proves a bigger boost than EA. However I only recommend ED if a school is a student’s absolute top choice AND it appeals affordable AND the family has no need to compare financial offers from different colleges.

Before you decide, I would consider whether either is a realistic option:

-Both of you meet with counselor and ask where she ranks approximately, and ask, in detail, where her rigor stacks up; how many APs are offered and how many kids have taken more rigorous courses every year than her? We have people every year around here who have no idea that 3-5APs total and mostly honors for the rest puts them only slightly above average rigor, which (here) makes the state flagships borderline. Not saying this applies to yours at all! But find out.
-find out if GT and V typically admit kids from your school from top 20%, top10%, top half, or top 1-2 kids? I know 4 schools well that fit each of those different descriptions.

If the answers indicate she is within or just outside the typical class rank band and typical rigor that gets in to these schools, then I vote Vandy if she has no preference, as from what I have seen GT EA is not much of a boost. Vandy ED is a clear and obvious big boost at the schools around here.

1 Like

Her ECs are fine…her rigor - how does it compare to others - 6 APs may not be a lot or they may be depending on what the school offers.

Why are these her top schools? Has she been? What will she study?

Are you willing to pay full (ED) or would you prefer merit (possible at Vandy, not at Gtown).

I would not ED anywhere if you’ve not visited to ensure. Or if it’s possible you’ll decide later you want a lower cost option because with her stats, there will be lots of merit opportunities.

If it were me and it was just a question of getting in, I’d ED Vandy and RD Gtown - as GTOWN says - th our Early Action and Regular Decision pools will have roughly the same acceptance rate. That doesn’t mean stats are the same though.

Also, as a Jewish student, while Gtown has a strong presence, I would want to ensure I was ok with a school in the jesuit tradition…because…that’s going to be there and for many jews, will not be comfortable.

Truly - I don’t think you “game” with an ED but rather, you only apply to a school that is definitely your #1 and you are all in - regardless of financial circumstances, etc. You don’t say - here’s a few schools - and well - i’m not sure which is my true #1 - that will lead to second guessing should you get into the ED school.

Good luck.

1 Like

Why just these two? She has a strong record but they are pretty reachy. If she likes Vandy, she might also like Tulane or Wake Forest, which have a similar vibe and both give a big ED boost on top of an already slightly-less-competitive profile than Vanderbilt. Tulane also has a particularly strong Jewish presence.

Of course, it depends what she wants to study, among other factors.

she is well aware of what a reach both Vandy and G Town are and has no real confidence of getting in, ED/EA or RD.
she visited Tulane and Vandy. Both were great and Tulane will def be on her list, but she preferred the Vandy campus and Nashville. she is also well aware that using up her ED on a reach like Vandy (or G Town) might mean she misses out on more realistic schools that she could get into if she applied to them ED but quite possibly will not get in if she applies RD (places like Tulane, BU, GW, for example), and she is ok with that. she will have back-ups and safeties that she will likely be happy at (places like Pitt, Ohio State, FSU, Arizona, UD Davis, Maryland…).

1 Like

I think that she would definitely have a better chance as an early applicant at Georgetown. Vanderbilt has become a hot school with 47,000 applications this year vs 26,000 at Georgetown. They accepted only 6% of their applicants vs 12% at Georgetown. Vanderbilt can afford to be more picky. Applications are on the rise everywhere, making all of the top schools more of a roll of the dice each year than they were the year before, but interest in Vanderbilt seems to be rising significantly faster than in Georgetown.

There are a few factors that serve to keep Gtown apps relatively lower and/or have kept growth relatively lower over last several years:

-they aren’t on the common app

-Georgetown is not test optional. Although students who haven’t taken an ACT/SAT can still apply without test scores, everyone who has taken a test/tests must report full testing history

-relatively less generous FA (especially as compared to Vandy)


GT is explicit that there is no admissions advantage to EA, and per a conversation with a recent GT AO now turned HS GC, they use EA acceptances to woo top students who are likely to get offers farther up the food chain.

1 Like

If your daughter is truly indifferent between two clear cut choices, there’s nothing wrong with using an ED. Fwiw based upon a regression of raw applicant acceptance rejection data from about 4000 high performing applicants, on a selectivity basis, Vanderbilt was the statistical equal of Rice and WashU just a touch below Cornell and JHU. Georgetown was the next school down from Rice/WashU/Vanderbilt, but there was more of a gap between those three and Georgetown than those three and the schools above them.

Looking at this from the perspective of maximizing her odds to get into one or the other at some point in the process, I’d probably go with Vanderbilt ED and Georgetown RD. Vandy ED provides a bigger lift than Georgetown EA, so all else equal, she’s probably a more likely admit to Vandy ED than Georgetown EA. She’s also a more likely admit Georgetown RD than Vanderbilt RD.

I wouldn’t worry about her AP courseload. There are plenty of unhooked applicants with not completely off the charts ECs who get admission to all sorts of schools at this level of selectivity.

Lastly, I would encourage her to make sure there aren’t other schools somewhere in that selectivity range she would also like to apply to RD. Duke, Dartmouth, NU, JHU and Cornell are a group. Rice/WashU/Vandy are. Georgetown, ND, CMU, USC, NYU, Tufts, Emory are as well. Tulane and Northeastern would be there but they both carry pretty massive RD penalties. Emory surprised me when I was looking at the data. Many kids got into there who didn’t get a single offer from the other schools in its peer group. So it seems to be a bit of a “selectivity bargain” compared to its resources and reputation. That’s one that I’d keep on her radar.

Best of luck.

1 Like

Good point.

They do, but at the same time, they have some weird yield-protection behaviors too. A top-stats kid I know was deferred EA, and when her guidance counselor inquired as to why, they stated that they wanted a declaration that Georgetown was her first choice, in order to accept her RD. GT had been her first choice, but she felt that a restricted early action app conveyed her interest clearly enough, and she was put off by the “promise you’ll come here” game (just make it an ED cycle if that’s what you want!) and moved on, accepting a big merit scholarship elsewhere.

1 Like

My thinking is that Georgetown is Early Action, leaving her still free to apply to Vanderbilt or anywhere else if accepted. Her options remain open. And her numbers are a better match for Georgetown, which combined with the acceptance rates of the 2 schools make G’town the one with the better chance of acceptance.

Vanderbilt is Early Decision. So, if she is accepted, she is committed to going there. Since she is undecided, I’m thinking that she’s in a better position if she keeps her options open.

1 Like

Are these results available publicly? All of this generally aligns with my observations, but I would love to see the data.

The data came from a census conducted on the applying to college Reddit. They only released the summary statistics last cycle and they’re compiling for this cycle, but a couple cycles ago they released the raw data. I took that and summarized the “competitions”. If one person got into ABCD but was rejected at EFGH, there are 16 conflicting decisions. Over 4000 or so kids applying to a lot of schools, there’s a good amount of data. Summarize those conflicting decisions by head to head matchup and you can regress the results. This is subject to limitations of self reporting and it will be reliant on RD/EA (as ED acceptances won’t have “competitions), but it seemed to work very well.

I don’t have it in front of me, but benchmarking vs Rice/WashU/Vandy (rated 16-18 on selectivity)…when there were conflicting decisions between one of those schools and Cornell (number 15), about 60% of the time it was an accept to one of those 3 and reject at Cornell. Vs Northwestern (number 12 or so), it was about 65% reject at NU. Vs Georgetown (number 19) it was about 65% a rejection at one of those three but accepted at Georgetown.

Everything seemed to be pretty consistent with the impressions most people tend to have. Brown was a bit harder than expected. Maybe 9th. ND a little easier. Maybe 25. Emory was abt 30. An easier admit than schools like NYU, Tufts, Tulane (at least RD). The 4 usual public suspects were all somewhere 21-30 blending in and OOS.

Some things have changed. Northeastern. The “secondary UCs” like SB, SD, Davis Irvine were already pretty high (30s). They are more difficult now and I imagine for OOS students one or two (UCSD especially) could be even more difficult to get into than a Georgetown or even a Vanderbilt today.

Overall, it worked well. It tended to fall apart a bit with LACs and schools like SMU, Rochester, Wake, American, GW and publics outside of the UCs + about 8 others. The sample size and competition data was more limited. I wish they would have released last year’s raw data and this year’s. In aggregate, I think that wouldn’t have provided a very good read on maybe 120 schools rather than maybe 50 unis + 10 or so LACs.


Interesting data! Just a note that other than for UC Berkeley and UCLA, there’s actually a much higher acceptance rate to UCs for OOS students (because yield is so much lower—students apply not understanding that their financial need won’t be met, so the UCs accept more of them to account for low yields). Their avg stats are as high or better than accepted in state students, but percentage-wise you are much more likely to get into UCSD from OOS than in.

That’s a good point. I’d need to go back and look at the data to see if I could tease out who is likely to be a California resident vs OOS. As you mentioned, the acceptance rate is higher OOS but the general caliber of those accepted OOS is a bit higher. So it’s difficult to say that it’s easier to be admitted from OOS. The yield could be low for OOS because applicants didn’t realize they were not eligible for aid. But it could also be lower because as a group those candidates were more competitive and therefore had offers they deemed to be better nationally.

A good example is WashU. Compared to many T30 or so peers, their acceptance rate was higher and their yield was lower. How I structured the model addressed that. They have lower brand recognition, so their applicant pool tends to skew a bit more informed and higher quality top to bottom than many schools that had similar acceptance rates back in 2019-20. Their yield was a bit lower than other mid teens acceptance rate schools because they were losing more of their accepted students to places like Penn, Duke, Brown whereas their peers with mid teens acceptance rates did not have this problem as a higher proportion of their admits didn’t have a Duke/Brown/Penn option in the first place.

My hunch is that this is what is going on with UCSD. OOS kids accepted likely have more options at places like Cornell, WashU, JHU, CMU than those accepted from instate so UCSD will lose more of those cross admit battles.

There is very little, if any, bump from applying EA to Georgetown. If the app is deferred, it is read again, but that’s about it. Their EA and RD acceptance rates have long been pretty similar.

ED at Vandy probably would provide a bump.

Still, I would only apply ED if the place is affordable and it’s her #1 (or maybe co-#1…) choice.

1 Like

My DS and DD were both deferred EA but accepted RD. I know EA may not initially confer an advantage or reap the desired result, but both my kids wanted this school over any others so they let Georgetown know that they passed up Eds with legacy to apply. It may have helped.

Having a second review by different officials in Admissions Office can offset incidentals that may effect how an application is read or received too. Others from their schools applied RD after disappointing ED results elsewhere and did not fare well. Just our experience…there are no guarantees though, so if your child likes Vanderbilt as much, then ED there can make a real difference. VU was very standardized test conscious last year though (1550 and over to be competitive).

1 Like

My D has a very similar profile (White, Jewish, not 1st gen, no legacy - we live in suburban Chicago) - she applied last year - ED to what she thought was her top school - given COVID she could not visit many places.
She was deferred, and ultimately decided the school was not her top pick. We decided against ED2, because of the financial contraints. She applied RD to Wash U and Vanderbilt, and completed the scholarship applications for both schools.
She applied without ACT/SAT test scores - but did submit 4 AP test scores (1 was a 4 and 3 were 5’s)
She was admitted with significant merit to both WashU and Vanderbilt (she got full tuition at Vanderbilt)
She chose Vandy and loves it, and is so glad she did not get into what she thought was her first choice school
After our experience, I would not advise ED unless 100% sure that it is the very top choice and finances are no issue. It did not seem to give our d any advantage, as she was accepted to 2 equally selective schools RD, and her mind changed through the application process as she got to know the schools better.