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Early Applications Drop Twenty Percent; Yale, Others Alter Policy

By Angelin R. Baskaran


MIT received 2,865 early action applications this year, approximately 20 percent less than the 3,579 it received last year.

The decrease was expected because of changes in the early application system at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford Universities, three of MIT’s major competitors, said Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones.

All three schools have switched to a “single-choice early action” policy that restricts students so that they can apply early only to that school, although they may then apply to any school in the regular process regardless of the admissions decision.

Yale and Stanford previously had early decision programs, which bind any accepted student to attending that university. Harvard had a non-binding early action program similar to that of MIT’s current system.

Yale and Stanford have seen significant increases in their early applicant numbers as reported in The New York Times, about 42 and 62 percent respectively, while Harvard experienced a decrease of approximately 47 percent.

MIT not considering new option

MIT has not yet considered moving to the new single-choice early action system.

Jones said that “limiting choices is not an MIT value. Besides, at present, we do have a de facto exclusive EA pool,” she said, referring to the early applicant pool. “Students who applied early to MIT are more likely to have MIT as their first choice than previously.”

She said she expects to accept fewer students in early action than in previous years, because of a higher probable matriculation rate with the early group.

MIT’s two other major competitors, Princeton and the California Institute of Technology, have not made changes in their early admissions system.

Princeton continues to have an early decision program while Caltech uses early action. Therefore, Caltech is the only major competitor that may have an applicant overlap with MIT in an early application pool.

Change may affect selectivity

It is not clear how these results will affect MIT, although the drop in applications could change MIT’s selectivity, the percentage admitted out of all early applications, and the number of students who matriculate, called the yield.

Jones said she expects more regular applications than usual because MIT will receive deferred applicants from the single-choice schools, as well as accepted applicants, since they are no longer bound to attend if they are accepted.

The percentage of students who accept admission may also rise since the students most likely to ultimately accept admission elsewhere would not have applied early action here.