Early action applications approach 7,000, exceed University expectations

David Kim


The Office of Admissions received a record-breaking number of Early Action, non-binding applications last Monday, easily exceeding the number of applications received last year, according to Michael Gaynor, director of University Admission.

Considering that Early Action applications were due Nov. 1, and that applications have been increasing over the years, the Office of Admissions was ready for a plethora of mail. 

However, the volume of this year’s applications exceeded all expectations by far, according to Gaynor. The exact number of applications, though, was not disclosed.

“We’ve never exceeded more than 6,000 applications for Early Action, but as the dust is settling we are approaching 7,000 and counting as we received 11 bins of mail last Monday alone,” Gaynor said. “This year’s turnout clearly surpasses previous years.” 

Considering the record-breaking number of applicants, this could possibly raise the bar for this year’s applicants, according to Gaynor. 

“Competition always dictates who we admit,” Gaynor said.

In past years, the Early Action application has attracted a wide range of competent prospective students –– among them were over 100 valedictorians last year. 

According to Gaynor, about 41 percent of these applicants are accepted during the Early Action process, and 28 percent of that selected group actually decides to enroll.  

In recent years, similar universities have abandoned the Early Action process and, instead, have adopted the singular, binding Early Decision contract. 

Other schools, such as Boston College and Yale University, have implemented a hybrid of the two early application options, known as either Restrictive Early Action or Single Choice Early Action. 

Though many schools seem to be changing their early application policies, the University stands firm on the Early Action tradition, according to Gaynor.

“I have been working for the Office of Admission for 28 years, and Villanova has always had Early Action, but I am not trying to portray schools with ED in an unfavorable light because it works for them,” Gaynor said.

This non-binding, Early Action option not only benefits the University by providing a considerable number of qualified applicants, but it also takes a substantial amount of pressure off students during the college decision process, according to Gaynor.

“We view the Early Action option as a reward to gifted and talented students,” Gaynor said. “We don’t want to pressure them into making decisions right away. As students, they should have the ability to pursue all of their opportunities and consider financial aid packages and academic scholarships. We keep our student’s best interest at the heart of every decision and policy we have here. And we believe Early Action does that.”

Freshman Tammy Ha agrees with Gaynor’s ideas on the values behind the Early Action option.

“I personally felt very reassured during the Early Action process, knowing that even if I was accepted, I would not be obliged to attend,” Ha said. “I think the amount of freedom that the program offers intrigued me to lean toward attending, anyway.” 

Ha added that along with the reassurance she felt from the Early Action process, the University-sponsored Early Action Candidates’ Weekend led her to choose Villanova University. 

“Even though it was raining heavily during the weekend, I enjoyed the tour of the University and dorms,” she said. “There were a bunch of accomplished and recognizable people who gave some inspirational speeches. It was pretty cool, and by the end of the weekend, I could see myself going here.”

Early Action Candidates’ Weekend’s attractive and compelling forces were not simply an accident, according to Gaynor. 

Candidates’ Weekend and other similar events were designed to influence accepted applicants to favor Villanova over other schools. 

“At the end of the day, in a good, selfish way, we try to engage the accepted applicants to experience our community’s distinctive Augustinian culture,” Gaynor said. “We invite them to Candidates’ Weekend and try to move heaven to earth, hoping they will choose Villanova over other schools where they have been admitted.”

Although the Early Action pool offers a promising start, the number of applications for regular decision remains unpredictable.

“It is impossible to predict the decisions that 17- and 18-year-old young adults will make, but we hope that the momentum from being up almost 19 percent from last year’s previous record will carry through,”