Is it better to apply single-choice early action to my top school or early action to a few schools?

I am debating applying single-choice early action to Princeton (and Rutgers, a public school) or applying to a mix of high-low range schools early action (St. Joe’s, Villanova, Georgetown, Marist, and Rutgers). The majority of schools on the second list are my safety schools. It is a question of quantity vs quality- is it better to increase your chances at a myriad of school or a singular, top school? Does applying single-choice early action truly benefit you at a school like Princeton?

Let me give some context as to the type of student I am.

Overall, while acceptance to a top school is improbable, it is far from impossible. I know am a good student. I maintain a 5.3 GPA on a weighted scale. I have taken every AP class offered to me, getting no lower than an A- as any final grade (with the exception of one B+…AP physics was tough!) My SAT reading score is a 760. My SAT math score is a bit lower than I’d like, 670, making my score a bit low- 1430. However, my interests do not lie in scientific or mathematical disciplines. I have had a lot of leadership experience, starting a regional political activism organization, becoming President of a nationally recognized state charter, having lead roles in several shows, winning public speaking competitions, and starting two major clubs within my school. While my numbers may not be very competitive, my resume is where I shine.

While I am a good student, I am not at the “top of the heap.” If single-choice early-action would be my most likely chance of getting into Princeton, I want to take that risk. However, if it will not do much for me, I do not want to scorn myself from getting an upper-hand at a multitude of colleges.

With that SAT score, Villanova is a match, and Georgetown is a reach, neither are safeties.

Let me clarify- Villanova and Georgetown were what I was referring to as my high range schools. The others on my list were my safeties. I’m sorry if that was unclear!

The answer is that neither SCEA or EA really give you a boost.

From Georgetown

ED may give a lift (very school dependent), but EA is really about finding out early.

Thank you! That is very helpful.

Where would you rate Rutgers vs St Joe’s, Nova and the other schools you list? There is no admissions boost applying to Princeton SCEA, and your math score will be an issue. In the latest CDS, only 13% of entering students received a math score below 700. I assume you are not an athletic recruit or the child of a major donor. While your EC’s/recognition appear solid, they don’t rise to true national or international recognition. So I’d say your chances of admission SCEA are extremely low. You may even be outright rejected.

That having been said, if Rutgers is high up on your list, taking a total flyer on Princeton SCEA may be ok if the goal is to secure an admissions spot before year end, you feel good about Rutgers and Princeton is heads and shoulders above all other schools. I’d reset your expectations and view Princeton pretty much as a lotto ticket. I don’t know if EA provides any boost for the other schools listed. Usually you only see a real boost with ED.

Thanks! That’s good to hear. I know Princeton is a very long shot that realistically will not happen, which is why I will take any boost I can get. However, if SCEA does not give me that boost, it seems better to spread the wealth.