A record number of New Zealand students have received early round offers to Ivy League universities.
More than a dozen Kiwis have been offered places in the top US universities, with more students from rural and diverse backgrounds securing the prestigious places.
In what is known as early decision and early action offers, five of the eight Ivy League institutions - Brown University, Cornell University, Harvard, Princeton, and University of Pennsylvania - as well as top ranked Stanford, Duke, Amherst College, Babson College and Vanderbilt University have all offered coveted places to New Zealand students nine months before semester begins.
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"It's been very exciting," says young entrepreneur and Harvard graduate Jamie Beaton.
The 21-year-old co-founder of education consultancy company, Crimson, which helps students gain places in top universities, said it had been a record year for the company for early round offers to New Zealand students.
Crimson students received multiple early round offers from 14 of the top 20 universities, compared to 11 of the top 20 in the 2015/16 round.
"I think that's off the back of a much higher number of applicants, and a lot more kids applying early as it gets more competitive."
Figures for how many students receive early round offers are not held nationally, but there will be others around the country also celebrating their early acceptance who have not used Crimson.
Among those are an Auckland Grammar student who has been accepted to Oxford University, King's College students Max Hardy has been given an offer at Cambridge for classics, and Michael Daya-Winterbottom has been accepted into Selwyn College, Cambridge to study classics. He credits his family and school for helping him secure his spot.
Fellow King's College students Amay Aggarwal has been accepted into both University of Michigan and King's College London, and Haoran Wen was offered a spot at Michigan University (Ann Arbor) in the United States.
Aimee Bebbington from ACG Strathallan has been accepted into a natural sciences course at Cambridge, while Diocesan swimming star Annabelle Paterson was awarded a $500,000 sports scholarship to Harvard University.
Last year, a record 50 Kiwis won admission to top-ranked United States universities, including all eight Ivy League schools.
There had been a lot more interest in applying for early decision and early action places this year, Beaton said.
What is an early decision or an early action offer? Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
"These application processes are getting more and more competitive, there's just more and more Kiwis applying," he said.
And more are being accepted - with New Zealanders having "a really phenomenal effect" on Ivy League campuses.
"Take, for example New York University, there's a substantial number of Kiwis there now and there's a real culture of young Kiwis running around New York city, taking on the city," Beaton said.
"We're seeing at the University of Pennsylvania, at Harvard, there's New Zealand-Australia societies popping up at all these different universities that didn't previously exist because there wasn't enough people from these parts of the world."
Kiwi students were more open to applying to universities outside New Zealand, he said, with a much more global outlook among young people today.
However, he denied the country was at risk of a "brain-drain", saying most Kiwis intend to return home, and will bring their new skills and global connections with them.
"I think it's extremely positive to the country," he said.
"You don't want to have everyone just sort of learning from the minds domestically. You need people to be going onto the world stage, meeting awesome academics, professors, making awesome connections, forming international companies, and really taking that level of global talent back to our country."
Large companies - such as Silicon Valley tech giants - were increasingly signing on international students to their books, he said.
"Having this kind of training, like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, as a 22-year-old learning computer science and bringing that back to a New Zealand start-up or something, that is very exciting.
"I think it's very, very good for our talent pool."
There had been a cultural shift among the universities, he said, and a move to accept more all-rounded candidates.
"One thing that's very interesting is this year we've seen a much broader segment of students applying through us," Beaton said.
"For example, we had a number of students who got into awesome Ivy League schools from schools that were not say decile 10 schools, they were not from the traditional urban hubs like Auckland, for example."
The top institutions "put a massive emphasis on diversity", Beaton said, including nationality, socio-economic background and sexual identity.
Cost did not need to be a barrier either, he said, as the top schools offer substantial financial aid packages.
WHAT IS AN EARLY ROUND OFFER?
There are two kinds of early round offers that students can apply to US universities for - early decision and early action.
If you apply for, and receive, an early decision offer from a university, you are then bound to attend that university.
However, if you receive an early action offer, you can later choose to attend a different university.
The processes are purely strategic - on both the university's and the student's behalf, says Jamie Beaton. There is no associated prestige with receiving an early round offer, but it may be beneficial for you to have one.
For New Zealanders especially - as the Northern Hemisphere academic year starts in September, many Kiwis could find themselves "in a bit of a limbo" if they wait to apply. Early round offers are made in December, which leaves plenty of time to plan.
Universities that offer early decision tend to accept students with a higher frequency in the early round, Beaton said, which can make it easier to apply. However, it's often the top candidates that apply early.
"The quality of candidates is often higher in the early rounds, which means that just because the acceptance rate is higher it doesn't necessarily mean the round is easier."
However, he said it was almost always "a very wise decision to apply early".
"If you do have conviction on a particular school that you're really excited to attend, then there's really no reason why you shouldn't do it early.
"Basically you're really committed to a particular university, you love the campus, the culture, and you want to show the university how committed you are, then it's a great way to lock in an offer."