Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates 2019-2020

Padya Paramita

US: Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates 2019-2020

Now that the new year has arrived, top colleges have finished notifying students whether they’ve been accepted, denied, or deferred in the early application round. You might be curious about what the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 look like for the Class of 2024. As the numbers start to become publicized, it can help to take a look at each of them side-by-side to get a sense of the selectivity across the highest-ranked schools this year. 

For a lot of institutions, the early round is when a big portion of the class starts to take shape - last year, 51% of Duke’s freshman cohort came from the early decision pool. And it’s only going to get tougher from here. If you’re applying early decision II, in the regular decision round, or even next year, reviewing these numbers can give you an impression of what to expect. Regardless of where you’re at in your process, take note of some of the top schools’ early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 publicized so far, along with what your next steps should be.

Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates 

School Early Round Acceptance Rate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7.39%
Yale University 13.8%
Harvard University 13.9%
Brown University 17.5%
University of Pennsylvania 19.7%
Duke University 21.0%
Cornell University 23.8%
Dartmouth College 25.5%
University of Virginia 35.0%
Emory University 40.2%
University of Georgia 43.0%
Barnard College 45.0%

The early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 might be inflated by recruited athletes and legacy students. But all things considered, these schools are still some of the most selective around the country, as you can see by the numbers at universities such as MIT, Yale, Harvard, and Brown. While the rates are strikingly low, they are still higher than the regular decision numbers, as shown by the 2018-19 overall acceptance rates in the table below:

School Overall Acceptance Rate
Princeton 5.8%
Harvard 4.5%
Columbia 5.1%
MIT 6.6%
UChicago 5.9%
Yale 5.9%
Duke 5.7%
UPenn 7.4%
Johns Hopkins 7.7%
Northwestern 8.9%

Vying for a place at the top colleges will only get more competitive, as they will receive thousands of applications during the regular decision round. For example, Dartmouth accepted 526 ED applicants, out of their plan to enroll 1,150 in the Class of 2024. That’s 46% of the incoming class already admitted. Last year, a total of 23,650 students applied to Dartmouth, so you can guess how competitive the fight for those last 500 spots will be!

For most schools, the numbers for early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 remain similar to those from last year. During the early round, MIT admitted 7.4% of students into the class of 2023. Brown’s rate went slightly down this year - going from 18.2% to 17.5%. For schools where the acceptance rate increased, the difference wasn’t overwhelmingly notable – Harvard’s went up from 13.4% in 2018, Yale accepted 13.2% of students in 2018, while Duke admitted 18.1% last year.

Princeton University accepted 791 students in the single-choice early action round. Last year, during the same round, the school admitted 743 students and had an acceptance rate of 13.9%. Although no acceptance rate was explicitly stated this year, Princeton did include the following statistics for its students admitted to the Class of 2024:

  • 48% U.S. citizens or permanent residents who self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students
  • 16% from lower-income backgrounds
  • 13% first-generation college students
  • 11% international students

Stanford has continued its tradition of not publicizing its acceptance rate, but you can bet that admission into this prestigious institution is as competitive as ever. It’s also interesting to note that application numbers at the University of Pennsylvania went down by 14% in the early decision round. This might affect the number of candidates accepted in the RD round. Johns Hopkins is yet to publicize its acceptance rate, but has announced that 682 students have been so far admitted into the Class of 2024. 

Next Steps 

If your early decision result hasn’t gone how you’d hoped or you didn’t apply this past round, you can take advantage of the data presented by the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 to formulate your next game plan. Now that you have a picture of how selective different colleges are, it’s time to think about how to convey your best self throughout your application materials as you prepare for the early decision II or regular decision rounds. Let’s briefly take a look at what to do depending on what your circumstance is:

If You’ve Been Denied (or You’re Just Applying to RD Schools)

If your current options only involve applying to colleges in the regular decision round, review and polish your personal statement thoroughly to ensure that it represents your story. Furthermore, take a look at the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 to decide whether your school list needs revisiting. You might want to add more safeties, or if a school appears to be a good fit for you that you hadn’t thought of before, you could consider adding a target school. Either way, create a timeline to keep yourself on track in order to have all of your materials ready. 

If You’ve Been Deferred

If you’ve been deferred from your top choice college, don’t lose hope. You’ve still got a shot. Make sure to craft a strong letter of continued interest emphasizing that the university is still your number one, as well as reiterating any recent accomplishments and grades.

Meanwhile, now that the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 are out, revisit your school list to decide whether there’s any college that might be tough given your current profile. Most importantly, don’t take acceptance at the school where you’ve been deferred for granted – while a small portion of deferred students do get admitted every year, the reality is that most are rejected in the RD round. So, keep applying to regular decision schools and making sure you’ve kept a good balance of reach, target, and safety options. 

If You’re Applying ED II

If you’ve decided that there’s a college where you’ll be happy committing to that you didn’t get to shoot for in the first early decision round, work hard on an ED II application, taking advantage of components like the supplemental essays to ensure that you’ve driven your interest in the school home. Plus, use the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 to get a sense of what the competition might look like.

Again, don’t consider yourself a shoo-in, no matter how great your chances might appear. Colleges have been unpredictable this cycle - you must prepare for any upcoming scenario. So, make sure that your regular decision applications are also ready to go. Don’t scramble to finish these at the last minute!

If You’ve Been Accepted

If you’ve been admitted ED, congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. You can now enjoy the rest of your senior year stress-free and focus on your academics and extracurriculars. Withdraw any other EA applications you had out there since you’ve already committed!

If you were admitted EA or REA, think about whether you’re set on attending that particular school or whether you still want to explore other regular decision options. If you’re leaning towards the latter, consider whether you want to change your school list and reduce the number of safeties. Either way, you can relax a little bit knowing that you’re still going to college somewhere. 

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2019-2020 at some of the most prestigious colleges and universities, make sure that the schools on your list are still a suitable fit for you. As you take the final steps in revising your essays and updating your activities list, use the data to your advantage and make the decision that’s best for you. Good luck!

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