Early Admissions Trends Class of 2023

With results now coming in on 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 schools release their information.

What do we know so far? Unlike past years that saw big gains in everyone’s early numbers, this year was more of a mixed bag. Brown’s early decision application volume zoomed up 21 percent and Duke notched a nearly 20 percent increase; applications to Emory’s first round ED program are up about 12 percent; Columbia is up nine percent; and Yale and Penn both posted solid five percent gains in early volume this year. A few key schools are reporting slight decreases in early volume – Penn and Harvard included.  Some deans postulate that we’ve reached a natural ceiling or this plateau is a ‘new normal’. It could also be that savvy students are being more strategic in how they use their early option, aiming for a surer bet rather than going for the long-shot.


  • The year of the woman extends beyond the Congress to the university. Actually, women have outpaced men in college-going rates for many years, but that hasn’t always been the case all across the Ivies. Harvard, especially, points to increased numbers of women who plan to major in both Physical Sciences and Computer Science.
  • Diversity of background continues to be a key priority in the selection process. Schools are working actively to build more diversity into their applicant pools through targeted outreach and partnerships with organizations like Questbridge.
  • Many schools with binding early decision programs will admit 45-50+ percent of their incoming class through the early process. Doing so ensures that they can lock in a solid foundation for their incoming class and reduce yield volatility.



Brown admitted 760 students this December, corresponding to roughly 46 percent of its incoming class. The admitted group represents just 18 percent of its 4,230 early decision applicants, making this the most competitive early decision process they’ve ever experienced. The 4,230 students represented a 21 percent increase in volume over last year. Dean of Admissions Logan Powell cites The Brown Promise – a new initiative which replaces all loans in University financial aid packages – as having a major impact on the size and composition of the early pool. Over half of this year’s admits intend to apply for financial aid and Brown notes a nearly 45 percent increase in applicants from the Midwest – both they attribute to the Brown Promise initiative. Brown continues to push to diversify their student body. This year, 46 percent of the admitted group are U.S. students of color (up from 38 percent last year) and 12 percent are first in their families to go to college.


According to the Duke official release, 882 students were admitted from a pool of 4,852 early decision applicants. With a record number of early applicants (up nearly 20 percent from the prior year), Duke’s early acceptance rate decreased to 18 percent, making this year’s ED process the toughest it has ever been. Altogether, these students will comprise 51 percent of the incoming Class of 2023. Students of color comprise 46 percent of those admitted and international students make up another six percent.


From a pool of applicants that numbered 2,474, Dartmouth admitted 574 students to the Class of 2023 (23 percent admit rate). The admitted group includes 25 students who applied through Questbridge. Hooks are clearly at play in the early group admitted to Dartmouth. A third of those admitted are students of color and fourteen percent are the first in their families to go to college (a record high for Dartmouth). Twenty percent of those admitted are legacies and twenty-five percent are recruited athletes. Altogether, these students will comprise 50 percent of Dartmouth’s incoming first year class.


Princeton University has offered admission to 743 students from a pool of 5,335 candidates, (13.9 percent of the pool) making this year’s early action process the most competitive since the school reinstated early action in 2011. It looks like Princeton chose to admit 56 fewer SCEA students this round—allowing it to post its record low admit rate.

Some additional interesting tidbits about the Princeton SCEA admits are that 50 percent are domestic students of color (African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American) and another 10 percent are international citizens. Fifteen percent are alumni children. A full 21 percent want to study engineering.


Penn’s early decision applicant pool has also plateaued, after several years of steady growth.  In total, Penn counts 7,112 students in its early decision pool, a 0.22 percent increase from the prior year. This year’s plateau comes on the heels of a record-breaking 15 percent increase in early decision applications for the Class of 2022. A total of 1,279 students were admitted early (17.9 percent), making up 53 percent of the incoming class. Women outpace men in the early group, making up 51 percent of those admitted. The diversity of the early group includes 48 percent students of color and 13 percent international students. Twenty-three percent are children of Penn alumni; 11 percent are the first in their families to go to college.


This year marks the most competitive early admissions cycle since Harvard reinstated early action seven years ago, as reported in a story in the Harvard Crimson. Harvard notes a five-percentage point increase in early application volume, to 6,958 submitted applications, leading to a 13.4 percent rate of admission. Dean Bill Fitzsimmons makes special note of the numbers of women admitted at this stage: women make up 51.3 percent of the admitted class, up four percentage points from last year at the same time. He goes on to share a marked increase in the percentage of women who wish to major in physical sciences and computer science. The other interesting headline from the Harvard results is that the number of Asian American students admitted increased by two percentage points. Perhaps not altogether that surprising, given both the composition of the applicant pool and the intense legal and public scrutiny Harvard’s admissions process has been experiencing of late.


Yale’s early application volume also grew by five percent, to a record high 6,020 applicants. Yale has seen its early application volume increase by 1,000 students since the fall of 2017. Leading the growth has been increased numbers of students from underrepresented backgrounds as well as students from the West and South. This year, 13.4 percent of the applicants (794 students) were offered admission in the early round.


For yet another year, Emory University has received a record number of applications for the first round of its early decision admissions process.  This year, Emory received 1,910 applications (representing students who chose Emory College or Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, or both), an 11.7 percent increase over last year’s record amount.  From that pool, 815 students were offered admission (559 to Emory College and 256 to Oxford College). Helping to drive this year’s application growth were more students who applied through the Questbridge National College Match program.


Barnard College saw its early decision application volume increase by 24 percent. The school received 1,235 applications this year as compared to 993 last year.

Early Admissions StanfordEarly Admissions Stanford

Early Admissions Stanford

Early Admissions Stanford

Early Admissions Stanford

Early Admissions Stanford






Over on the West Coast, crickets from Stanford on the details of its early applicant pool and REA admits. The school announced this fall that starting with the Class of 2023, it will stop releasing admissions data altogether. This decision sets Stanford apart from the vast majority of top tier colleges and universities, most of which annually provide some context for the admissions results. Stanford notes this decision stems from not wanting its rock-bottom admit rate to dissuade prospective students from applying. Later on, we’ll have a chance to see Stanford’s macro admissions data, as all schools receiving federal funds need to report their data to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Stay tuned for more updates as they become available!

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