The University has received approximately 3,830 early action applications so far this year for the Class of 2019, according to Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye.
Last year, the University received 3,854 early action applications, but Rapelye said more applications could still come in this year. It is not uncommon, she said, for students who intend to apply early action to send in their applications but to specify regular decision accidentally.
Students have until Dec. 1 to correct their decision options with the Office of Admission, she said.
The Office of Admission may also accept late applications if a students has a legitimate reason for submitting late, Rapelye said, including health problems for the student or close family members and international students whose school schedules may leave them on holiday when applications are due.
Overall, Rapelye described the numbers as “exactly the same this year,” adding that the numbers are still “a little soft” because of the applications that could come in within the next week or two.
Of the 3,854 early action applicants to the Class of 2018 last year, 714 were accepted, producing an acceptance rate of 18.5 percent. Six hundred ninety-seven of the 3,810 early action applicants to the Class of 2017 were admitted, corresponding to an 18.3 percent early acceptance rate.
Rapelye said the ideal size for the Class of 2019 is 1,310 students, and she anticipates that the number of students accepted early this year will be in the same range as that of last year.
Last year, 4,692 applied to Harvard early, and 4,750 applied to Yale early. Harvard admitted 21.1 percent of these applicants, and Yale accepted 15.5 percent of early action applicants.
Students will receive their acceptance decisions in mid-December.
“We’re rating and reading the files now. We haven’t gotten to committee yet — that will happen in December,” Rapelye said, referring to the stage of the process in which admission officers convene to go over applications together and to “vote on candidates.”
There are 20 full-time staff members reading applications in addition to 20–24 individuals helping with the technological and administrative sides of admission, Rapelye said.
The office temporarily hires 25 to 30 additional readers from outside the University each year who have appropriate credentials in education and writing, she said.
The pool of applicants has increased by 93 percent over the last 10 or 12 years, she said, adding that the University has seen 25,000–27,000 applications in each of the last three or four years.
Rapelye said it’s difficult to identify trends in admission since the switch to single-choice early action in 2011.
“We’re still in the first three years of early action. We don’t have a long trendline to look at,” Rapelye said.
Last year, the University rejected a very low number of students in the early round, deferring 3,042 to the regular decision cycle. Twelve applicants withdrew, and only 49 were rejected.
“Because the Common App was not working properly at this stage, we refused a very small number last year,” Rapelye said. “Here’s my philosophy about early: If a student is really not going to be competitive in the spring, we want to give them an indication now to say this is not going to be a possibility, and we hope you will now re-apply to other schools. That’s what a refused decision in December is.”
When students are deferred, it is generally because the University wants to see how they compare to the rest of applicants or to see how they perform in their senior year classes, which Rapelye said is incredibly important in the decision-making process.
The University hasn’t yet calculated the demographic breakdown of applicants, but Rapelye said this information will be available in December when acceptance letters are sent out.