Many colleges saw a substantial increase in the number of early admissions applications in 2012, including Boston University, Colgate, Cornell, Emory, and Vanderbilt, all with binding Early Decision policies. At the same time, a few schools received a smaller pool of applicants than in years before with Dartmouth showing a 12.5% drop, and Duke a 4% decline (NY Times).
Northwestern accepted its largest number of Early Decision applicants to date, already filling 43% of the Class of 2017 (The Daily Northwestern). Princeton took a somewhat different approach, lowering its acceptance rate through Single Choice Early Action by almost 3% from last year, with Dean Rapelye stating that she hopes to have more room for regular decision applicants, according to The Daily Princetonian.
Colleges differ in how they handle students who are not accepted in the early application round. The Stanford Daily reports that Stanford chose to deny almost 80% of its early applicant pool, deferring only 9.4%. On the contrary, Harvard denied only 14% of its early applicants and deferred the remaining non-accepted students (67%) to the regular applicant pool (Harvard Gazette).
Overall, the percentage of higher education institutions that offer Early Decision has remained relatively constant in the last 10 years, at about 18.5%; while the percentage of institutions with Early Action has nearly doubled in the last 5 years, from 18% in 2006 to 31% in 2011 (NACAC’s 2012 State of College Admissions Report).
For detailed statistics on early admissions for the Class of 2017, see the NYT chart.