To further inform your decision, consider, too, how universities strategically use their early admissions programs. Schools without worries about yield rates like Stanford (the percentage of accepted students who choose to attend), tend toward EA, since a high percentage of accepted students will inevitably attend. These schools will retain their yield rate, a key factor in US News and World Report ratings, no matter what.
Schools like Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, and Penn, however, secure talent otherwise headed to their even more elite competitors through a binding decision, ultimately a recruitment tool. Alternatively, Yale aims to gradually reduce its EA acceptances “to make room for equally deserving candidates in the larger, more diverse, regular pool.” If you’re a competitive student for any of these highly selective schools and are determined to attend one of the country’s best universities, you might want to consider applying ED.
If, on the other hand, you want to toss your hat in the EA ring, bank on deferral, and accept the possibility of having to wait it out, applying EA to a school with a high deferral rate such as Harvard, Princeton, or Yale could be a good choice. To help you with such nuanced deliberations, check out the following data (and below them, there's more to this article!):
Decisions, decisions! They are all yours. When it comes to life-changing, path-defining moments, the more you inform yourself, the more solid your decisions will be. Early admission provides a great motivating opportunity for some applicants. It can be a tough journey for others.
Whatever you do — whether you apply ED, EA, or RD — think thoroughly about all of the possible approaches to your stunning future and pursue as many as possible. Instead of fixating on a singular outcome, dream more expansively, keeping a broad vision and casting a wider net while focusing on your core identity. If you can maintain a balance between focus and measure during the admissions process, you’ll have received great training for studying at a premier institution.