You should apply by November 1st if you want to get into Harvard or Stanford (or Yale, Princeton, MIT, Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown …)

In our previous post, we tried to drive home the harsh reality that college admissions is not a meritocracy; it is a game. And if you plan on attending Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown or any other elite school, and you haven’t already begun working on your application, then you are already losing the game. Early Action and Early Decision applications for the most competitive schools are due on November 1st, meaning you have less than 60 days to take advantage of your best hope to get into one of these top colleges.

The Common Application was initially devised as a tool to ease the stress of college applicants, so that applicants would not have to work so hard to apply to multiple schools. However, that has backfired and now applicants are more stressed than ever as they apply to more and more schools each year, shooting up the number of applications to each and steadily decreasing the admissions rates. Very few schools can focus entirely on bringing in the best class possible. Even the Harvards and Stanfords of the world must concern themselves with acceptance rates and yields; else they lose ground in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings.

In years past, applicants needed to manage multiple unique essays, manage recommenders and fill out school specific administrative data for each school. The common app has simplified the recommender and administrative data requirements, and greatly reduced the number of essays that must be written, though many schools require supplemental essays (e.g., PrincetonStanford).  Trying to keep their admissions rates low, elite colleges continue to employ early admissions policies despite acknowledging that such policies disproportionately benefit the rich and privileged at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged. Early Action and Early Decision typically restricts each applicant to apply to only one* school in the fall, so schools know that those applicants that they accept early are much more likely to attend than those applicants they will accept in the regular decision round. Likewise, applicants who know how to play the game recognize that by committing to apply to a school Early Action or Early Decision that they can greatly improve their chances of admission at that school. With the exception of MIT, an applicant’s chance of admission through EA/ED relative to regular decision is at least 2.5 times greater at all of the top colleges and universities. And at Harvard, an EA/ED applicant is over six times more likely to be accepted than a regular decision applicant!

Those applicants who do not apply EA/ED to a school that they would be eager to attend are doing themselves a great disservice. Furthermore, those applicants who plan to write their essays in the few weeks before the admissions deadline are also doing themselves a great disservice. The clients we work with typically complete one dozen to two dozen turns of each essay, meaning that a client will be drafting, writing, editing or re-writing at least one essay a day for well over a month. The clients we work with will be working on their administrative data and will be managing their recommenders during this time, as well. This is why we insist, if you haven’t already begun working on your application, then you are already losing the game.

If you want to get in the game, we can help. Please refer to our admissions consulting services page and reach out to us if you are ready to apply to a top college or university. We will help you identify the school that you should apply early to based on your credentials, your goals and your fit with the school. We will then help you craft a story (with perfect essays and great recommendations) that will best position you for admission. Additionally, our services cover unlimited applications during the regular admissions cycle – although if you play the game right there’s a good chance that you’ll know where you are going to attend college by the end of December.

Contact us today if you want to get into Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown …

* Because MIT is the most obvious exception to the restrictive EA/ED policies at other schools, it effectively is no different as applicants can’t apply to any other elite schools under their EA/ED policies.