Early action is ‘new normal’ for undergraduate admissions, Fitzsimmons says
"Applications for early action at Harvard College rose 5 percent this year to 6,473, and 14.5 percent, or 938 students, were admitted to the Class of 2021. Last year, 6,167 applied early, and 14.8 percent, or 914 students, were admitted.
“Early admission appears to be the ‘new normal’ now, as more students are applying early to Harvard and peer institutions than ever before,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “At the same time, we have continued to stress to applicants, their families, and their guidance counselors that there is no advantage in applying early to Harvard. The reason students are admitted — early or during the regular action process — is that their academic, extracurricular, and personal strengths are extraordinary.”
The admissions committee is careful to ensure that only those students who are, in Fitzsimmons’ words, “100 percent certain” to be admitted in regular action are admitted early. “This is particularly important because in recent years we have received record numbers of applications,” said Fitzsimmons. Last year, 39,041 students applied for admission to the Class of 2020. Ten years ago, 22,754 students applied for admission to the Class of 2010."
Maybe the growth in early admissions is happening at Stanford too, but apparently we're not saying:
In break from past, Stanford declines to release early admissions data
In the NY Times, Frank Bruni complains of the stress it causes the children of his friends: The Plague of ‘Early Decision’