Early Decision Stats Show Increased Interest in the 5Cs

The Class of 2020 of the Claremont Colleges is coming into focus as the 5C admissions offices recently sent out their second wave of early decision (ED) results. The numbers reveal an increased interest in the Claremont Colleges and have the potential to spark conversations about access and opportunity.

Following a trend across the other 5Cs, Pomona College experienced a surge in ED applications, increasing to 914 applications from 736 the previous year. At 19.4 percent, the admission rate is the most selective ED acceptance rate in college history, according to Director of Admissions Adam Sapp. In an email to TSL, Sapp wrote that students admitted through ED would make up around 40 percent of the class of 2020. Sapp said that he was “very pleased with the ED group this year.”

“We saw increases in students from diverse domestic backgrounds, first generation students, and international students,” he said. “We also had more talented arts and humanities applicants, many of whom submitted an Arts Supplement that was able to be reviewed by our faculty.”

Pitzer College also experienced an increase in ED applicants, from 405 to 423. The rise in the number of applicants was accompanied by a decrease in the admissions rate, down to 27.8 percent from 30 percent two years ago.

Pitzer’s Interim Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Jamila Everett wrote that she thought ED is for “students who are drawn to Pitzer’s core values early in their college search process and know that Pitzer is the place for them to grow academically, socially, and as an agent of change.”

Everett also noted that ED applicants will have spent plenty of time researching the college and contemplating what they would bring to the community there, asserting that “the early decision process lays the foundation for the rest of the class.” 

For Harvey Mudd College, this year's reduction in the admittance rate from 17.7 percent to 16.6 percent also reflected a rise in applicants, from 436 to 464. ED admits will make up around 35 percent of the incoming class.

Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid Thyra Briggs wrote in an email to TSL that admissions staff look for students that would benefit from and contribute to HMC-–the same approach they take with Regular Decision.

“There are some wonderfully strong students in our early decision pool, but we also know that the Regular Decision pool will be strong, so we want to leave ourselves room to admit most of our students in the later round of admission,” she wrote.

Briggs also noted that the ED applicant pool tends to be slightly less diverse than regular decision pools “in terms of both racial and socioeconomic diversity.”

When asked over the phone about the reasons behind this disparity, Briggs offered up a few possible explanations, like that applying to only one school might not make the most financial sense for some students. For students who know that financial aid will be the most important factor in their decision, Briggs believed that many will wait to apply to several schools via Regular Decision in order to compare and select the best financial aid offers.

Additionally, Briggs also attributed some socioeconomic differences between the two pools to educational backgrounds. Cultures at well-resourced high schools tend to pressure students to apply early. Briggs noted that students from underrepresented communities might not experience the same kind of pressures or they might also be offered different kinds of advice–to take their time and really explore their financial options.

Pitzer admissions did not find similar demographic differences. Everett wrote that Pitzer did not see much variance between their ED and regular decision pools.  

At Pomona, Associate Dean of Admissions Chris Teran said that “the early decision pool is always a pretty good representation of what we expect to see in regular decision,” not finding noticeable differences between the two pools with regard to socioeconomic status and educational background.

When asked if students from underrepresented communities might face a disadvantage due to a lack of awareness around the college admissions process as a whole and early decision in particular, Teran pointed to Pomona's emphasis on outreach and cohort programs for students from those communities.

“Any time we talk to students, or their families…we explain all the options to apply to the college, and if there was a student that was not aware of Pomona’s process, it would be a result of us not reaching any contact with them,” he said.

In addition, Teran said that having an ED II deadline allowed for students to take advantage of ED programs, even if they did not establish contact with Pomona until the fall of their senior year.

Teran noted that cohort programs like Questbridge and Posse, “are counted as early decision programs, but they’re not part of the early decision rounds.”

At the time of publication, TSL was not able to acquire ED admissions data from Scripps College or Claremont McKenna College.

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