Stanford offered admission to 2,210 students via electronic notification today, producing – at 5.69 percent – the lowest admit rate in University history.
On Thursday, several peer institutions also reported historically low admit rates. Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton admitted 5.8, 6.72, 6.89 and 7.29 percent of applicants respectively.
Another site gives the MIT rate for the class of 2017 as 8.2% (1548/18989), another record low.
Since many of the schools that would be a good fit for my son are highly selective, and it seems to be almost a lottery who gets in, it looks like he’ll need to apply to just about every college that might be a good fit, plus a couple of poorer-fit “safety schools” to raise his expected number of acceptances to more than 1. Ideally, I think that he’ll want an expected number of acceptances around 3, in order to have some choice and to keep the probability of zero acceptances low enough. It looks like that means about a dozen super selective schools (like MIT), a handful of selective schools (like UC Berkeley), and a couple of less selective schools (Cal Poly?). That means a lot of college application essay writing for him this summer!
I’ll have to put in some time this summer putting together the “school profile”, “guidance counselor,” and “home school supplement” parts of the application, to try to make it clear to the admissions officers what his education has been.
Early applicants seem to be accepted at much higher rate than the overall pool (14–30%, so 2–3 times higher). Is this because the earlier applicants are better? because they have to commit sooner? because they are offered less financial aid? because they have to commit without seeing the financial aid terms?
If the early admissions process is still only a 1-in-5 lottery, I can’t see betting everything on one school—but does the process allow multiple early admissions, or do you have to commit to one school? It seems that some programs (like MIT and Caltech) are non-restrictive early action: a student can apply to multiple early-action programs. Others, like Yale and Stanford are restrictive single-choice early action—you don’t have to accept their offer, but you can’t apply to other early-action programs. Still others are early decision: you may only apply to one program and are committed to accepting whatever offer they make if they accept you. (Note: I did not check the programs at the schools—the information comes from Wikipedia, and certainly needs to be checked with a more authoritative source—it may all be different next fall anyway, as admissions offices have gone back and forth on the worth of early-admissions programs.)
The College Board has a reasonably informative discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of early decision and early action programs.
It seems to me that my son should apply early for the non-restrictive early action programs that look like a good fit, but not for single-choice early action or early decision programs, unless he really falls in love with just one school (which seems unlikely at the moment). If nothing else, having some applications due for an early deadline and some for a later one will help him spread out the workload of preparing all the applications.