Early decision applications on the rise across the U.S.

Early decision applications have seen a dramatic increase in number as well as success: More people who apply through early decision have been successful in receiving admission, according to an article on Inside Higher Ed.

Criteria used in college admissions have not changed drastically in recent years. The standard factors of grade point average, standardized test scores, strength of high school curriculum and extracurricular activities are still major components of admissions decisions.

According to the 2010 annual report released by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, a new factor is on the rise for application consideration: "demonstrated interest in enrolling."

Interest is demonstrated through campus visits and tours, contact with the admissions department and other actions that convey a strong desire to attend a particular institution. Some attribute this new trend in admissions to financial motivations: an individual that truly wants to attend a particular college or university will enroll even if he or she does not receive a significant amount of aid.

According to the NACAC report, colleges reported a notable increase in the number of students admitted through the early decision process. For the entering incoming freshman class of 2009, 65 percent of colleges with early decision programs admitted more students who applied through this method than in previous years.

On average, 70 percent of early decision applicants are admitted, compared to 55 percent acceptance for applicants at large.

At Geneseo, the admissions department receives approximately 300 early decision applications per year. According to Director of Admissions Kristine Shay, about 42 or 43 percent of these applicants are admitted. Of this pool, 130 to 140 students enroll, making up about 10 to 12 percent of the incoming class. This pattern has remained fairly consistent throughout the years.

From the college's perspective, early decision admissions provide a way to fill up a portion of the class earlier in the year. While applying early decision does not guarantee acceptance, statistical evidence suggests it does increase the chances.