Full Circle: Early Decision is Regular Decision Again and The College Admissions Rat Race Continues Unabated 

Tulane University admitted two-thirds of their Fall 2022 class, through Early Decision, essentially transforming early admissions into Regular Decision. If Tulane is setting a trend (our base case) or will remain an outlier in college admissions (not likely), depends on whether students and parents continue to apply early admissions believing in their worth as candidates or (more likely) gaming the process

Since Tulane only admitted 106 Regular Decision applicants for Fall 2022, rising seniors, who are savvy consumers of college admissions, are likely wondering if early decision has become regular decision and therefore the advantage, (if there was ever any advantage) of applying early is now diminished. Thus, their only choice is Early Admissions, the new regular admissions.  

Not only does the College Admissions Rat Race continue, but increases in intensity. Furthermore, if past is prologue, then Tulane’s Early Decision precedence will impel peer institutions to similarly increase their admitted pools in the early admissions rounds or risk not only missing top academic recruits, but also institutional enrollment targets in order to keep their doors open.

Already, Brown University joined the 50%+ Early Decision admit club with their Class of 2026 (incoming Fall 2022 students), of which, Duke University and University of Pennsylvania are currently multi-year members, all thus like Tulane having succeeded in bringing forward the Regular Decision deadline disguised as Early Decision.

Furthermore, for Fall 2023, the University of Southern California is implementing Early Action admissions for the first time, promoted as responding to applicant demands, yet, is likely a “keep up with the Jones’” quest to compete for qualified candidates.  

Thus, a familiar pattern is emerging, similar to the predecessors of the current early admissions system. In the 1950’s, a “feeder” program between elite US prep schools, like Exetor, Groton, and Andover, with Harvard, blossomed into the current early admissions system. Next Amherst, Williams, and Dartmouth, followed Harvard, enticing students with higher admissions odds in return for an early commitment (legally binding but uncertain if Constitutional).

Now, Gen Z’ers, who’ve developed a “College or Bust” mindset, craving any seeming advantage to realize their college dreams, must weigh a potential denied admissions versus two fewer months of thorough self-reflection in order to confidently choose the most valuable college. Thus, under the duress of emotion and a false belief that applying early offers an advantage, (it doesn’t but that’s another story), students will choose to apply early, thus transforming early admissions into regular decision.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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