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More Increases In Early Decision Applications

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
December 9, 2009

Many selective colleges and universities are continuing to report significant increases in early decision applications, which allow students to apply early on condition that they must commit to be enrolled in that particular school if accepted.

Much as when Duke University announced last month that its early decision applications had gone up by 33 percent, The Washington Post reports that many other area institutions are seeing the same trend: American University saw a 46 percent increase in early decision applications this year, while early decision applications at George Washington University rose 24 percent this year and 70 percent over two years. At the College of William and Mary, early decision applications were up 15 percent, and at Johns Hopkins University they rose 10 percent.

The Post noted that many high school seniors are eager to secure their spot in college early. Nellie Beckett, a senior interviewed by the Post, noted that her classmates, guidance counselors and college officials all agreed that applying early to Smith College would increase her chances of admission.

"It's such a relief to know that in two weeks I will, I hope, be done with this entire process and can get on with my senior year," she told the Post.

College officials at the College of William and Mary were thrilled with the surge in applications. "When you look at our 10-year history, [our pool of early decision applicants is] a record," noted Earl Granger, associate provost for enrollment, who was quoted in the school's student publication, The Flat Hat. "Typically what ends up happening is early decision, at least in the freshman class, represents about 36 percent of the freshman class."

Brown University similarly saw early decision applications increase 21 percent, reports the Brown Daily Herald. Jim Miller, the institution's dean of admission, called the trend "unexpected," in particular because of the difficult economic climate.

"It does seem that people do perceive Brown as having great value," he noted the Herald, adding that people seem "very willing to invest in a Brown education."

Inside Higher Ed reports that other colleges have also reported minor gains in early decision applications. Stanford University saw a 4 percent increase, while New York University saw a 5 percent increase.

Yet not all schools saw gains. Yale University reported a slight decrease in early decision applications, as did Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Williams College in Massachusetts.

Jesse Lord, dean of admission and financial aid at Haverford, told Inside Higher Ed that the decrease was not surprising. "Many more families and students than usual expressed to us that they did not apply early decision," he said, "because they wanted the opportunity to compare financial aid awards and to determine what they could afford."

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