Prospective students are increasingly making William & Mary their top pick for higher education and are exhibiting their enthusiasm and commitment to the Alma Mater of the Nation by applying via Early Decision.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission received 15% more Early Decision I applications this year than last. Over the past two years, William & Mary has seen an incredible 45% increase in applications for the first round of Early Decision. Within the overall increase, the university has also seen meaningful growth among first-generation students and applicants likely to be Pell Grant-eligible. 

Having a larger, stronger Early Decision applicant pool allows the university to lay a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the class, said Tim Wolfe, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of admission. 

“We were able to make more admission offers to talented students we know see William & Mary as their clear top choice,” he said. “As a result, the creation of William & Mary’s Class of 2028 is already off to a strong start, and we look forward to building on that momentum in the next few months as we work to identify even more students we believe will thrive at W&M and enhance our community.”

Early Decision allows prospective undergraduate students who know that William & Mary is their top choice to apply early by committing to attend if admitted. The university offers two rounds of Early Decision opportunities. Early Decision I applicants for the fall 2024 freshman class were notified of their status on Dec. 5. Early Decision II applicants will be notified in January, and regular decision applicants will receive word about their status in late March.

This year’s Early Decision I pool saw application increases from both in-state and out-of-state applicants. The pool also included increases in applications from students applying via fee waiver and first-generation students.

The university has been striving in recent years to expand access to such students and recently launched several efforts to advance that goal. This fall, William & Mary launched the Commonwealth Impact Partnership Program to help identify high-achieving, limited-income high school students for the William & Mary Scholars Program. 

Last fall, the university announced that it would guarantee scholarship aid to cover at least the cost of tuition and fees for all in-state, undergraduate Pell Grant-eligible students. This October, a gift was announced to help the university as it seeks to expand opportunities for out-of-state Pell-eligible students, too. A top priority for the university remains adding financial aid resources for all students. 

While the increase in Early Decision I applications may be attributed in part to such efforts, it is also likely linked to ceaseless work by the Office of Undergraduate Admission and its partners around campus and beyond, Wolfe said.

This fall, staff members from undergraduate admission visited more than 600 high schools in Virginia and around the country. They also hosted a number of campus events that drew large crowds and allowed prospective students to experience some of what William & Mary offers, including the most personal education of any public university in the country.

Seeing their hard work come to fruition when students are notified they’ve been accepted is one of the highlights of the year for Wolfe and his team, he said. 

“I cannot say enough about the amazing team I have the honor to work with, all of our partners across campus who do so much to support us and the William & Mary community around the globe making this such a special place,” Wolfe posted to social media the night Early Decision I notifications were made. “Welcome to William & Mary. You belong.”

, Senior Associate Director of University News