Decoding the Early Decision Acceptance Rate Jump for Ivy League Schools

By: Caroline Koppelman

People frequently ask about the benefits of applying early decision. Our answer is that apply early decision not only provides peace of mind, but, if you’re qualified, can dramatically increase your chance of acceptance.

Colleges want to accept more students early decision because it increases their yield rate. The yield rate is the percentage of students admitted who actually attend. Since early decision is a binding agreement, it’s a great way for colleges to increase their yield rate. The yield rate is a component US News and World considers in its rankings.

Harvard, Princeton, and Yale don’t have available data on the percentage of the class filled early decision because their early application process is restrictive early action. Restrictive early action prohibits you from applying early action to any other private, domestic universities early decision or early action but is a non-binding agreement. 

If you are interested in an Ivy League school, or another school with similar acceptance rates, you might want to consider applying early. As a reminder, applying early will not help you if you are unqualified. We encourage qualified students who are certain about the school they’d want to attend to apply early. However, if you’re on the fence or unqualified, look elsewhere. Best case scenario you could be locked into attending a school that’s a bad fit, or waste your early decision.