The Early Admissions Arms Race

According to the Common Application, “around 860,000” applications were submitted on November 1, 2019 for Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Decision application deadlines, which for the first time, exceeded the “around 720,000” applications submitted last year on January 1 for traditional Regular Decision deadlines.

The increasingly competitive nature of the college admissions process—evident in programs like Early Action/Decision that more colleges are adopting in search for a more selective applicant—is beginning earlier and earlier during the senior year of high school. Thus, the stress of applying to college is manifesting in families sooner in the summer before senior year, with concomitant effects on students and their families.

And, as more students believe they’re qualified for admissions, as well as worry about their chances for admissions, then the numbers of early applications will only increase. Thus, colleges may respond in kind, moving their own early applications dates earlier and earlier to compete for the most highly qualified applicants. So, when will the “arms race of college admissions” end?

While stress is an obvious affect of applying to college on a teenager, it’s just one consequence and complicated beyond the scope of this post. There are more complex effects from the increasing competition for college admissions, which we witness daily, and will attempt to address in later posts.

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