Preparing for College

Early Decision Vs. Regular Decision Acceptance Rates at Claremont McKenna College

Question: What is the Early Decision acceptance at Claremont McKenna College and is it significantly different from Regular Decision?

"The Dean" doesn't have any current official Early Decision stats for Claremont McKenna. (I looked on their "Common Data Set" for 2009-10 and that space was blank.) But according to a list published in U.S. News & World Report in the fall of 2009, the overall acceptance rate at CMC is about 19% and the ED rate is nearly 28% See

Many admission insiders argue that the significant difference between ED and Regular Decision admission rates is due to the fact that ED applicants are often the best organized and strongest candidates. While this theory may be valid to some extent, it's also true that colleges tend to operate on the old "bird in hand" theory. That is, when admission folks see a reasonably impressive candidate who is willing to make a binding commitment to their school, they realize it makes sense to grab this applicant right away rather than hoping that someone better will come along in the spring.

In particular, schools like Claremont McKenna, which are top colleges but not as universally well known as the Ivies and a handful of other places likes Stanford, MIT, and Duke, are especially delighted when an ED application sends a message that proclaims, "You're my Number One, and not just the place I'll go if I get bad news from Brown." For instance, in the same U.S. News story cited above, you'll see that the Grinnell ED rate soars to 68.5% from 43%; Franklin & Marshall goes from 35.9 to 70.4; and Wheaton (MA) from 38.8 to 85.6.

Note also that a growing number of colleges, including Claremont McKenna, offer two rounds of Early Decision. Typically the first will have a deadline in November and the second in early January. I assume that most ED statistics will lump together the acceptance rates for both.

Although there are certainly pros and cons to applying via ED, I do feel that the boost in acceptance odds coupled with the opportunity to enjoy a more stress-free senior year are both compelling reasons for many high school students to consider ED.

(posted 11/02/10)