Acceptance Rates Among Top Colleges

Though early decision admission options have conventionally been considered an additional “admissions booster” for students looking to lock in their dream schools ahead of the curve, recent trends across publicly released data from numerous universities indicate that said “curve” of regular decision applicants has been depleting–and funneling straight into the early decision pool. 


More people are applying early; less early applicants are being admitted

According to publicly released data from numerous high-tier colleges, many institutions received a higher number of early applications than the year prior, with a majority of colleges receiving significant increases in overall early applicant numbers over the past four years. 


  • Brown received around 10% more early applications than the preceding class, making this Brown’s fifth consecutive year of a growing early admission pool. 
    • Early acceptance fell to a record low of under 13% this year (over 18% 4 years ago)
  • Harvard received the second highest number of early applicants last year (9,500+) following a record-breaking jump from 6400 (class of 2024) to over 10,000 (class of 2025).
    • Early acceptance rate fell to 7.56%, the second lowest acceptance rate since class of 2025 (7.41%)
  • Notre Dame received a record high of nearly 11,200 REA applicants last year, a 15% increase from the 9700 applicants for the preceding class. Only 7750 applied early for the class of 2025. 
    • Early acceptance rate fell to 15.25% from 17.3% for the preceding class, which fell from 21.6% for the class of 2025


While some colleges had fewer early applications or higher early-round acceptance rates than the year prior, such as Columbia (10.31%→11.33%) and UPenn (15%→15.63%), the majority of universities have significantly raised the entry barrier over the past five years, particularly between the the classes of 2024 and 2025. 


What does this mean for prospective applicants?

Although admissions into elite universities is undoubtedly the most competitive it’s ever been, there is still a measurable advantage to applying early in terms of admittance. Click here to see how different acceptance rates of different early admission options compare to regular acceptance rates.  


To maximize your acceptance odds as an early applicant, it’s important that you:

  • Submit your applications as early as possible – applications are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis; last-minute attempts to apply can be risky/stressful
  • Choose your ED1/ED2 schools wisely – given the binding nature of applying ED, it’s important that your ED school(s) is realistically within range of your credentials, and fit for you academically/socially. 

Ensure that your application is as strong as possible – in addition to outstanding academic records, Ivy League colleges particularly look for strong, impactful extracurricular experiences that demonstrate your reasoning for selecting their college and your desired field of study.