College Counseling Sees 8.75% Rise in Early Application Rates

In accordance with recent trends, the number of Seniors that applied early to college increased to 87 percent, up from last year’s 80 percent, said Sean Logan, Director of College Counseling. Logan speculates that this continued rise is due to an increased awareness of the possible admission benefits that early application programs offer, the earlier availability of financial aid data for parents and the continued effort on behalf of the College Counseling Office (CCO) in preparing students for college decisions as early as possible. With some decisions still pending and many unreported decisions, the CCO has not yet been able to determine a final percentage of students admitted early. Although the school has seen an upwards trend in early applications for the past few years, Logan does not expect the number of early applicants to significantly increase in the future. Logan said that students do not apply early for a variety of reasons and that a large portion of the Post-Graduate population at Andover does not apply early to colleges. “I think there are reasons that students don’t apply early that are perfectly legitimate and fine…. I don’t see the number jumping another ten points,” he said. There are three different types of early application programs: early decision, restrictive early action and early action. Acceptances from early decision programs result in a binding agreement to enroll at the school. Restrictive early action, a program used by schools including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, according to Logan, allows the applicant to apply to other schools as long as those schools are public. Early action programs do not restrict applicants in any way. According to Logan, the majority of early applicants from Andover apply to early action schools. Students have many more options when they apply to early action schools because of the non-binding nature of the application, Logan explained. With this comes an incentive to apply early to multiple unlikely or reach schools, as students attempt to increase their acceptance chances by applying to multiple schools instead of one. Last year, the average early action applicant from Andover applied to three schools. “There are more opportunities to be had in the [early action application] process…. In general, it’s an opportunity for kids to get going,” said Logan. Early decision schools use the early application process to fill up large portions of the incoming class. Logan said, “Certainly, you can find a bit of a boost for kids who do the [early decision] route with [those programs,] because [schools] know that they are going to get the student.” He continued that, in early decision cases, it is critical that students have done extensive research on the school of their choice. “You really have to know that that’s the place you want to be,” said Logan. An important aspect of early action is the impact that it has on the second round of applications. Early acceptance into early action schools can help streamline the college application process: students may choose to rescind their applications from other colleges, ending the college application process months in advance, said Logan. Logan said, “[In] the big-picture research that we have done, every category improves applying early. But it varies, so if you are applying early to an unlikely school, it goes up a little bit but not a lot.” Another advantage of early action is that many schools offer merit-based scholarships in the process. The majority of early application schools are still highly competitive, and early application does not significantly help an applicant’s chance of acceptance, said Logan.