Finding the Success Rate of Applying Early Decision

Should you apply early decision?

I got an email last night from a psychologist who asked if his daughter should apply early decision to The College of New Jersey, which is a public liberal arts college.

Last month, I wrote about the early decision dilemma that a mom from Minnesota was facing regarding her daughter’s desire to apply early decision to William and Mary College. Here is that post:

Case Study: Applying to William and Mary College Early Decision

Today, I’m revisiting the early decision issue, in part, because I wanted to share a resource that may help students make the correct choice.

A Great Early Decision Tool

Before applying early decision to a school, it’s a good idea to see how much of an edge, if any, applying to a school early decision would make. A great way to obtain this statistic is to look at a school’s Common Data Set. At the end of this college blog post, I provide links to the three posts that I wrote on the Common Data Set for those who don’t know what this valuable document is.

Once you obtain a school’s Common Data Set, you can find out the success rate of early decision applicants by looking in Section C. First-Time, First Year Admission of any Common Data Set. Right under the heading, Early Decision and Early Action Plans, you learn the number of applicants who applied early decision and the number who were admitted.   Specifically, check Section C21.

When I examined The College of New Jersey’s early decision data, I found that 450 students applied early decision and the college accepted 258 of those applicants. That’s a success rate of  57.3%. That’s significantly better than the 46% overall acceptance rate that I pulled from the College of New Jersey’s profile on

The 57.3% rate is also much better than the success rate for women applicants at this public liberal arts college. In Section C., you can also get the gender acceptance rates of any college or university. In The College of New Jersey’s most recently posted Common Data Set, 2,696 women applied and 1,273 were accepted.  That’s an acceptance rate of 47.2%. The acceptance rate for men was 44.7%.

Just because early-decision applicants enjoy an edge doesn’t mean the psychologist’s daughter should select this route. Tomorrow I’ll share details about her situation. In the meantime, here are my recent Common Data Set posts:

Researching Colleges With the Common Data Set

Common Data Set 101

How Generous Is This School

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for and US News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter.

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3 Responses to “Finding the Success Rate of Applying Early Decision”

  1. Eileen K says:

    I am interested in your college planning services. My son is in 11th grade and I need help selecting the right fit for him. What services do you provide and how much are your fees?
    I was very impressed by your knowledge and insight into this process when I attended your lecture last spring at CCA. He is an excellent student and an athlete and wants to go to an Ivy league college.
    Thank you.

  2. […] colleges and universities have been accepting more students through early decision applications. Early decision admissions are controversial because it locks students into attending the colleges where they […]

  3. […] those who wish the admission process was fairer, the increase in early decision and early action applications is discouraging. Why?  It’s largely rich students, who benefit from applying […]

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