Early Admissions Trends: Class of 2022

With results now coming in for the early admissions round at top colleges and universities around the country, here’s our expert assessment on what we’ve learned thus far. We’ll continue to update our information as more colleges release their information.

More students are applying in the early round than ever before, making this early decision/early action round ever more competitive. Double-digit increases at schools like Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, MIT, Penn and Yale put downward pressure on admit rates as the numbers of students admitted in the early round didn’t change substantially.


Our quick takeaway? Big gains in early application volume were the rule, not the exception.

  • Brown saw its largest early decision applicant pool ever, with 3,502 applicants, a 10.5% increase. From this, the largest early pool ever at Brown, 738 students were admitted, for an overall early decision admit rate of 21%.
  • Columbia was one of the few schools that didn’t post a healthy increase this fall. In fact, the 4,086 applicants reflected one fewer than last year. Assuming they admitted roughly the same numbers of students as last year (Columbia is not super-forthcoming here), we peg their early decision admit rate at about 15.9%.
  • Dartmouth saw big gains this year, with a 13.5% increase in early decision applications. 565 students were admitted in early decision, reflecting an early admit rate of 24.9%.
  • Duke posted big gains in early decision as they received 4,090 applicants this fall, a hefty 16% increase and the largest early pool ever. No surprise – the admit rate dropped to 21.4%, representing 875 admits.
  • Harvard pulled in 6,630 applicants for its single-choice early action round, a 7.4% increase from last year. The school reported a 14.5% rate of admission; meaning 960 students got great news from Cambridge.
  • MIT saw a 16% surge in early action applications. 9,557 students submitted early action applications. If they take the same number of students as in the prior year (657), hat would mean their early action acceptance rate would be about 6.8%.
  • Northwestern had 4,050 applicants vie for early decision this year. That’s a 6% increase over last year and that’s on top of a 26% increase the year before. 26% were admitted early decision, meaning 1,073 students got the nod in early.
  • Princeton posted an 8% increase in early applicants, meaning 5,402 seniors applied early for admission. 794 students were admitted, resulting in an acceptance rate of 14.7%.
  • Stanford is still presently mum about the number of students applying in the early round and the number who were admitted.
  • UPenn also saw a big 15% increase in early decision applicants, with 7,074 students submitting applications. 1,312 were admitted, meaning their rate of admission in early dipped to 18.5%. It was 22.03% last year.
  • Yale’s early action pool grew 13% to 5,733 students, dropping their rate of admission in early to 14.7%. It was 17.13% last year, quite the drop as Yale early is now under 15%.


So, who did get in? More first-generation college applicants and low-income students.

Recruiting a more diverse applicant pool continues to be a priority for top colleges. This means more concerted marketing and outreach to these students and their families – and successful ones at that. Both Dartmouth and Yale note increased admission of highly qualified, low-income students affiliated with the QuestBridge program.

The Harvard Crimson reported the following:

The group of early admits to the Class of 2022 reflects an overall increase in non-white students from previous years. African American students comprise 13.9 percent of early admits, up 1.3 percentage points from last year, and the percentage of Latino students increased slightly to 9.8 percent of the early admit class. Native American and Native Hawaiian students make up 1.8 percent of early admits combined, up marginally from 1.1 percent last year. The percentage of Asian American early admits grew the most, increasing from 21.7 percent last year to 24.2 percent this year.

Hooks still matter.

25% of the students admitted to Penn are legacy students – children or grandchildren of Penn graduates. And, note that Penn’s definition of a “legacy applicant” is broader than most other universities. At Penn, applicants whose parents or grandparents graduated from any affiliated school and even graduate programs are considered legacy applicants.

college early admissions fit

It’s all about the fit.

Students with unique and interesting pursuits – and top scores, grades, awards and honors – made the cut this year. MIT says “…Though they all do different things – baking and beekeeping, powerlifting and politicking, tennis and tensors – they are united by a shared standard of rigorous academics, high characters and a strong match with MIT’s mission to use science, technology, and the useful arts to make the world a better place.”

What does this mean for regular decision?

Expect a much tougher regular decision process all the way around, given the surge in early applicants and the percent of each class committed through early programs. Dartmouth notes 47% of the incoming class was admitted through early. Northwestern expects to fill half its class with early decision admits. Penn anticipates 55% of its first year class to be comprised of early decision students – that might be an ED record.

With regular decision application deadlines right around the corner, we hope that you’re putting the final touches on essays and supplements. Once you hit submit, exhale and enjoy your holiday break. You’ve earned it!

AND…for younger high school students…get your game on NOW. Don’t wait to think about college admissions as your entire high school career counts. We are filling up quickly for our ABC 2019 Application Boot Camp. Current sophomores grab your seats now.

One Comment

  1. Rona

    Posted on January 30, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Bowdoin’s ED rate this year was up 25%: https://bowdoinorient.com/2017/11/17/bowdoin-receives-early-decision-applications-from-more-students-more-schools/


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