Is There an Advantage to Submitting College Applications Early for the Ivies?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Male student typing in his laptop.

Is There an Advantage to Submitting College Applications Early for the Ivies?

Ivy League schools represent the very best education available. These eight prestigious colleges have long traditions of offering world-class education. Some of the brightest minds from across the entire globe flood these schools with applications each year with the hopes of being accepted. Naturally, this high level of competition creates a challenging admissions process that leaves students trying everything they can to increase their chances of getting accepted. Many end up wondering “is there an advantage to submitting college applications early for the Ivies?

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Does submitting your application ahead of the deadline improve your chances of acceptance?

In reality, there’s no concrete advantage to submitting your application before the deadline. Admissions counselors aren’t going to give discernable preference to students who were able to get their applications completed and submitted in a more timely manner.

Besides, when a university sets a deadline, it’s not a race to see which students can finish quicker. It simply represents the final date the school will be accepting university applications. Whether an Ivy League school receives your application 100 days before the deadline or the day before, your chances of getting accepted aren’t going to be altered.

The only possible advantages that can come from submitting your application early are personal.

  1. Stress Relief: The college admissions process can cause a little bit of stress, especially when applying to the Ivy League. And everyone responds differently to that stress. Some people do better by spreading out their application work over a longer period of time while others won’t be able to feel relaxed until it’s submitted. If you fall into the latter group, it might be a great stress relief to get your applications to the Ivies submitted earlier than the deadline.
  2. Personal Events: If you have an upcoming personal event scheduled for near your university’s application deadline and you know it might impact your ability to submit your application timely, you might want to think about turning it in early. For example, maybe you have a family wedding or planned vacation right before the deadline. In this case, it might be risky to wait to submit your application.
  3. Multiple Applications: Another reason why an individual might be able to benefit from applying before the deadline is if they’re applying to more than one school. Instead of completing all applications at one time, you might decide to complete one at a time. With this strategy, it might make sense to turn in your application early so you can move on applying to other schools without being distracted.

Pro Tip: No matter your reason for submitting an application early, make sure you quadruple-check it before submission. You’d hate to turn in your application early only to have a few obvious mistakes that could’ve been accounted for if you would’ve waited.

What can happen after I submit an early application?

Generally speaking, there are three possibilities that can happen after you submit an early application. Here they are:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Deferral
  3. Rejection

What’s the difference between submitting a college application early and early decision/early action

In your research, you’ve probably come across some incredibly similar terms that might have caused some confusion. Namely, early decision (ED) and early action (EA). Although it sounds like there’s no distinction, these are actually two different application programs offered by universities.

Not every school offers each, but the vast majority provide at least one for students who don’t want to wait for the standard application timeline to put in their bid for acceptance. To make matters even more confusing, some people use the phrase “apply early” to refer to ED or EA when this simply means to submit an application before it’s due. So, what’s the difference?

a female student sitting and appears to be thinking

Well, as we mentioned before, both ED and EA programs offer students the ability to submit an application on an earlier timeline than normal. The primary difference is that students applying for early decisions are bound and aren’t permitted to apply to other universities. Some universities use this to filter out students who aren’t positive that, if accepted, they would attend the school. On the other hand, early action isn’t binding. This means there’s no limit to the number of schools to which the student applies.

While the early decision and early action programs are alternate timelines to the standard application timeline, there’s a third possibility for turning your application in early. And that’s simply to submit the application before the standard deadline. Some students do this to get out from under the weight of stressful application preparation. Others simply start early and get done quickly. So, how does each form of early submission impact your chances of getting into the university of your dreams? Let’s find out.

What about early decision dates?

Although we’ve already established that there are no real benefits of submitting a college application before the actual deadline, that doesn’t mean there’s no advantage to applying with an official early decision or early action program. In fact, using these alternative application timelines can increase your chances of getting accepted into the college of your choice. How? Well, as you’ll see below, Ivy League university acceptance rates are higher during early action and early decision when compared to their standard timelines.

School # of Early Applicants for Class of 2024 # of Early Applicants Accepted into Class of 2024 Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2023 Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2024
Brown University (ED) 4,562 800 18.2% 17.5%
Columbia University (ED) 4,461 TBD 14.6% TBD
Cornell University (ED) 6,615 1,576 22.6% 23.8%
Dartmouth College (ED) 2,069 547 23.2% 26.4%
Harvard University (EA) 6,424 895 13.4% 13.9%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 6,453 1,269 18% 19.7%
Princeton University (EA) TBD 791 14% TBD
Yale University (EA) 5,777 796 13.2% 13.8%

More helpful college application tips

Now that we’ve clarified that applying during early action or early decision can increase your chances of getting accepted into an Ivy League university, you might be wondering if there are any other tips you can use to raise those chances even more. Fortunately, there are many! Here, we’ll share a few more helpful college application tips that can take your application from mediocre to top of the pile!

Get started early.

Whether you’re applying during early action/early decision or the normal timeline, it’s still important to get started as early as possible. With classes, extracurriculars, and a host of other responsibilities pulling your attention in a hundred different directions, it’s easy to continue putting off your application tasks until it’s too late.

Two women are talking while walking in the hallway.

When you procrastinate, you run the risk of having to rush around to get everything you need which typically results in a lower-quality application overall. Once you’ve decided to apply to a university, it’s a good idea to get started right away.

Find stellar letters of recommendation.

Applicants are required by many universities to obtain letters of recommendation from teachers and sometimes guidance counselors. While this might seem like something that doesn’t require a lot of work on your part, that’s where you’re wrong.

In order to make sure these letters reflect well upon you, you’ll need to think long and hard about which teachers you ask to write them. Of course, most will be more than willing to write something nice about you.

However, you’ll need to find an instructor who knows you well and who can provide a personal and intriguing letter of recommendation. It’s best to start brainstorming your best options well ahead of asking them.

Chat with alumni.

One of the greatest advantages of attending an Ivy League school is the alumni network from which you can reap nearly endless benefits both during and after college. What many people don’t know is that some of these advantages even extend retroactively.

Young woman talking to an interviewer.

In other words, graduates of Ivy League schools are typically more than happy to speak with people thinking about attending their alma mater. In fact, some schools even set up interviews between an alumnus and an applicant as part of the admissions process. However, you can reach out to one on your own to ask any questions you have about the university.

Find out what you need.

A common mistake students make when applying to multiple universities is assuming that all have the same application requirements. Although there is significant overlap between Ivy League schools regarding what you’ll have to turn in along with your application, you don’t want to run the risk of being short a key document just because you had assumed all requirements were identical.

Fortunately, all colleges clearly outline what applicants have to turn in for their application to be considered. No matter how many colleges you’re applying to, make sure you’re 100% certain of what’s required.

Write excellent college essays.

Every Ivy League school requires applicants to respond to a series of prompts. These essays are designed to give students an opportunity to express more about themselves while, at the same time, allowing admissions officers to get to know more about the applicants. After all, the standard application doesn’t provide much in the way of personal or revealing information. The best way to ensure your college essays stand out and increase your chances of getting accepted is to work with an entrance expert like AdmissionSight that offers professional essay editing services.

a smiling college student holding her phone and credit card

Prepare for your interview.

Many Ivy League colleges require applicants to undergo an interview in order to determine their eligibility. Although the format of this interview varies between universities, it’s an integral part of the admissions process. A great way to improve your chances of getting accepted is to prepare for this interview.

You’ll want to practice answering certain questions, how to handle yourself formally, what to wear, how to speak, and much more. Working with a professional to successfully prep for this interview can really help you perfect this portion of the admissions process.

College Application Timeline FAQs

With over a decade of experience in the college admissions industry, we’ve come across every question you can imagine. As you might expect, many of these queries overlap. Here, we’ll list and answer some of the most common ones regarding college application and admissions timelines.

Is it bad to submit essays on the last day?

In order to officially meet the application deadline, students have to turn in their application and all of the required materials by 11:59 pm on the date of the application deadline. This includes college essays which are considered part of the application.

Although colleges will still treat applications and essays submitted on the final date of acceptance the same as those submitted earlier, we don’t recommend it. When you wait until the last minute, you don’t give yourself enough buffer time for potential issues. It’s best to submit your application well before the deadline.

Can I submit my college application on the deadline?

As we’ve mentioned before, you can technically submit your college application on the deadline. Admissions counselors aren’t going to count it against you. However, we highly advise against it. Generally, waiting until the last minute when applying for the Ivy Leagues is something you definitely want to avoid.

What are the typical college application timelines for colleges?

Typically, deadlines for regular decision applications are at the beginning of January. Most applicants will receive acceptance letters in March. Generally speaking, you’ll have to let colleges know whether or not you accept by the end of April. This is why May 1st is known in the community as College Decision Day.

Working with an admissions counselor can improve your chances of getting into the Ivies

If you’ve set your goals for the Ivy League, let’s first say congratulations. It’s a challenging process but definitely worthwhile and laudable. While you might be bummed to find out applying early doesn’t really increase your chances of getting accepted, there is a surefire strategy that gives students an edge over the competition: working with an admissions counselor. These experts live and breathe the college admissions process and know exactly what it takes to get accepted to some of the best universities in the country. Yes, even the Ivy League schools. In fact, that’s Admission Sight’s specialty.

We have a tough time keeping track of just how many students we’ve helped get into the university of their dreams. How do we do it? Well, we know what college admissions officers are looking for and how to make your application as impressive as possible. Our services are designed to put you in the best light for the Ivies.

Whether you need help editing your supplemental essays, choosing extracurricular courses, or planning your high school curriculum, we’ve got your back. To learn more about what Admission Sight offers and how students and parents can benefit, feel free to reach out to us today for a free consultation.

Do you need help getting into an Ivy League school?

It’s no secret that getting into an Ivy League school is a challenging process. These top-tier universities attract some of the most talented and brightest minds from across the country and the world. Understandably, many students and parents don’t know where to begin when it comes to applying to these prestigious universities.

Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle this process alone. AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert who helps students just like you make the most out of their applications to drastically increase their chances of getting into the university of their dreams.

Need help finding the right summer program that’s fun and falls in line with your academic interests? We can help with that! Not sure what extracurriculars in which you should invest time and energy? Our talented team can help identify some activities that will pique your interest while also looking great on your application.

Getting writer’s block on your college essays? Our essay editing services can make sure your essays stand out from the crowd. Interested in learning more about AdmissionSight and what we offer? Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.


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