Early Decision and Early Action Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2027

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Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education

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5 min read

Early Decision and Early Action Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2027

Trends in Early Admission

Both universities and prospective students have shown a growing interest in early application periods. Several universities now have multiple early application windows, including Early Action (EA), Early Decision (ED) I and II, and some "secret" Early Decision III windows. With a limited number of highly qualified applicants who have listed the early school as their first choice, admission rates tend to be higher in early pools. Applicants who apply in a binding round (ED) or who are accepted early action (EA) are more likely to enroll in college than other candidates because schools value informed interest and yield rates.

Early Decision and Early Action/Early Decision Acceptance Rates

Wondering if there’s any explanation for the dramatic changes we’ve seen in college acceptance rates? Record numbers of applicants meant that even the most selective colleges had to settle for historically low acceptance percentages this year. Check out the table below to see what percentage of applicants get accepted during the first round of admissions at each of the schools on your list of top choices.

What's the Difference Between Early Action and Early Decision (EA vs ED)?

Early Action is a nonbinding application plan that allows students to receive an early decision notification, often in December. Because it is nonbinding, the student has until May 1 to make a final decision about whether or not they’d like to attend the university; this allows them to research alternative admissions offers that may offer better academic programs or financial support. While decision results tend to indicate that early action (EA) applicants have higher acceptance rates, it’s hard to separate how much of that is due to applying early versus the fact that early candidates tend to be more driven and represent a great proportion of the strongest (and most accepted) applicants. It’s thus important to realize that, while applying early action may slightly help, EA usually doesn’t give students a notable leg up in the admissions process compared to regular applicants. However, there are always exceptions to that rule, so it’s key to do your own research before deciding if applying EA is the right fit for you.

Unlike Early Action, Early Decision acceptances are binding decisions. The normal application deadline is the first week of November, and the student, parent, and guidance counselor must all sign an Early Decision Agreement promising that the student would enroll at the college if they are accepted. There are typically exceptions that allow students to back out of the Early Decision Agreement if they are unable to pay for college, although it is worth noting that the process can be harrowing and difficult to go through. As such, Early Decision should be seen as a legally binding agreement. Because it is binding, colleges tend to view early decision (ED) applicants as students with displayed interest in their university and a strong intention to attend. As such, ED applicants see large boosts to their application chances when applying to a school ED. For many students, this might be the best way to guarantee entrance to a competitive university before places become extremely limited during the normal admissions cycle.

What is Single Choice Early Action (SCEA)?

Using elements from the aforementioned Early Action and Early Decision approaches, some universities provide a "Single Choice Early Action" plan. This is an early action plan, so the student has until May 1 to determine whether or not to accept an offer of admission; furthermore, the choice is not binding. However, the downside to Single Choice Early Action plans is that students are only allowed to apply to that single college under the early deadline (hence the name “Single Choice Early Action. There are often exceptions for applications to public universities, but it’s worth exploring those exceptions on a case-by-case basis. It’s also worth pointing out that several top schools, like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, only offer Single Choice Early Action.

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