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Early Decision on the Mind

Posted by on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 in Application Process, Early Decision.

Yesterday I was sitting in a coffee shop in Bloomington, Indiana spacing off and thinking about the small joys of life – I had my first John Cougar Mellencamp sighting!  I spent four years in Bloomington and it wasn’t until I came back several years after moving that I saw JCM milling about.  This was very exciting.  Therefore, my brain was preoccupied.  As I sat in a coffee shop responding to emails about Early Decision it took a significant amount of time until I realized the ED I deadline (November 1) is Monday!  I was just adjusting to the fact that it was no longer summer and somehow we’ve hit November!

Not only is the first ED deadline right around the corner, but the popular discussion around Early Decision ramped up last week when a NACAC report found students applying to college under binding programs are more likely to receive admission.  My Twitter feed is fluttering with Early Decision news, opinions, and talking points.  And last month I met a seasoned college counselor who expressed serious concern about the state of Early Decision.  All of this information has my brain working overtime.

I don’t know the entire history of Early Decision.  Although you can bet your Commodore Cash I’m looking into it.  However, I do know that Early Decision is not the same everywhere.  And the distinctions matter.  For example, colleges in the Ivy League frequently recruit many of their athletes and other select populations via Early Decision.  This means the numerical advantage you see when you look at the acceptance rate from ED vs. RD may not apply to you.  Another significant difference is the percentage of the class filled through binding decision plans.  Some colleges take in excess of half their freshman class prior to regular decision – in these cases it is surely advantageous to apply early.  Other colleges will limit the number of students admitted early to such a low number that it is more difficult to be admitted at that time.

Why can’t every college be the same!?  It would prevent so many headaches.  I know.  However, as I’ve stated before, college admissions is truly about selecting students that serve institutional needs.  You need to go to college, but colleges need certain students to achieve objectives.  It’s not a one-way relationship.  The way (i.e. decision plans) colleges select such students is designed to serve institutional needs.

I want to be as transparent about Early Decision as possible.

  • Last year the middle 50% of SAT scores for admitted ED students was 1390-1470; the middle 50% of ACT scores was 30-33
  • 90.32% of admitted Early Decision students were in the top ten percent of the high school class (only those high schools providing official class rank are included in this statistic)
  • 31.91% of Early Decision applicants received admission for Fall 2010
  • We aim to fill approximately 1/3 of our freshman class through the Early Decision process each year
  • Our athletic programs are NCAA Division I; therefore, our athletes do not come through the Early Decision process
  • Spots granted to students at Early Decision are not reserved for “special populations”; rather we are looking for a high-achieving, diverse group of students (same as Regular Decision)

Below are some additional resources for you to explore.

VU Resources:

Outside Resources:

Wondering if Early Decision at Vanderbilt is right for you?  Take my ED quiz from earlier this year!

Also, remember you can ask me!  Post below.

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  • JaredRo

    October 26th, 2010

    Thanks for the insight! My little boys will glad to have this information!

  • Paige

    October 30th, 2010

    Thank You! I applied early decision because I thought I would have a better chance of getting in. Then I heard that athletes and such are usually admitted via early decision. This clears up my confusion! :)