Expert educational consultant and college admissions advisor Mark Montgomery speaks from the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine about applying for early decision. While admission statistics can make applying for early decision seem urgent, a student should be certain the college is really his or her first choice.
So, today I’m on the campus of Bowdoin College, it’s in Brunswick, Maine right along the coast. Beautiful day here, sunny, warm; it’s not always this way because it does get really cold here in the winter time. But I’m standing in front of Massachusetts Hall, it’s the oldest building on campus. It’s the original building. Used to be that all the faculty lived on the top floor, the students all lived on the bottom floor, and the classes were held on the second floor. Of course, Bowdoin’s a lot bigger now, it’s got about 1,800 students.
And I want to talk about some of those numbers. We just were in the information session, and we were talking about early decision, and the admissions officer in charge mentioned that 45% of the entering class is accepted in the early round. So 45% of the class, that’s a big number. So the normal assumption would be that if I wanted to go to Bowdoin, my odds would be much better if I applied early decision because 45% of the slots are given away in the early round and there are fewer applicants.
However, it’s also important to know two things: number 1, the athletes who are recruited to play on the 33 teams here at Bowdoin are mostly accepted in the early decision round. And 34% of the students here at Bowdoin are athletes. So that means that really, if you are not an athlete, there is not a big huge bump, because only 10% of the non-athletes who come to Bowdoin are accepted in the early round.
Now what does that really mean for you? Well, it means that you just don’t want to pay too much attention to the statistics. What you want to pay attention to is whether or not Bowdoin is really your first choice college. You also have to do a calculation of whether or not you are within the range of acceptability at Bowdoin, because I don’t recommend that if you really aren’t going to be eligible to attend Bowdoin, don’t waste your early decision play on a school that is way above your ability based on the admissibility statistics. But even if that’s the case, if Bowdoin is absolutely your number 1 choice and you really want to come here, then yes, apply early decision. Apply early decision. But those statistics about early decision and revolving around that, they are very complex, very confusing, and they probably don’t apply to your particular case. So just be careful when you’re thinking about early decision. Don’t make it a game, make it a decision about where you really want to attend a college or university.