Early Decision Overload

Everyone knows early decision (ED) is important. But how important? I would go so far as to say that it is more important, than just about anything else.

According to the 2020 – 2021 Northwestern Common Data Set the university received 39,263 applications in 2020. Of those, 3,654 were accepted and the overall acceptance rate was 9%.  First if we compare the overall acceptance rate (9%) to the ED acceptance rate (25%) we can see that simply by clicking “ED”, the applicant increases their chances by 177%.

Even more notable, of the 39,263 students who applied to Northwestern, only 4,411 (11%) applied early decision. Since only 11% of the applicant pool applied ED, these applications are very, very, valuable.

Remember, the entire Freshman class at Northwestern is 1,901. In order to get those 1,901 students, Northwestern wants to admit as few students as possible (lower acceptance rate). The tool they use to accept as few students as possible is the binding ED applicant option.

In this instance, while trying to fill 1,900 seats, they filled 1,105 (58%) of them through the early decision option. Let that sink in for just one moment. At one of those most selective universities in the country (9% acceptance rate), 58% of all of their enrolled students come from only 11% of the applications. If those numbers don’t scare you out of avoiding the regular decision applicant pool … Godspeed.