The number of seniors at Darien High School who plan to attend college the fall after graduation has increased 7.5 percent since 2010.

Even more so, the number of students attending a four-year college has increased from 84.6 percent in 2010 to 95.2 percent in 2013, while the number of students attending a two-year college has decreased from 5.3 percent to 1 percent in that same period of time.

Paul Ribiero, director of guidance, presented the status report of the 2013 graduating class to the Board of Education Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday night, only five of the 310 students in the class of 2013 are listed as other and undecided for their future plans.

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Two students are special education students and are returning in the fall; one is a foreign exchange student; one is attending a missionary trip for the year; and the last is obtaining a high school degree through GED course, according to Ribiero. Those five students represent 1.6 percent of the total class without definitive plans for the fall, the lowest since the 3.2 percent in 2010.

The increase in four-year colleges and decrease in two-year colleges isn't what he found notable however.

It was the sharp increase of students who chose to apply through early decision, which locks a student into a school by applying early.

Often times, students have a greater chance of being accepted to that school, and acceptance is known prior to winter break.

This year, 44.5 percent of students, up from 37 percent in 2012, applied through early decision, in what Ribiero described as an "unusual jump."

"What we had was nearly half of the graduating class knew where they were going before Christmas," Ribiero told the board. "Those seniors are then able to enjoy senior year without the pressure of `Where am I going to be in the fall?'"

The New York Times reported that at least 12 schools had seen significant increases in early decision applications by November 2012.

"We think more and more families are feeling pressured to try and apply early," Ribiero said. "There's some statistical data out there that shows that the acceptance rate is higher for students who apply early. We also feel families are starting the process early and making more informed decisions and more confident decisions about what really is their first-choice school."

Ribiero, along with some of his colleagues he said, have seen a trend in the number of students who are being accepted into their schools off the wait list.

Though the district does not have any collected data concerning students taken off the wait list, Ribiero said it was noticeable enough that he and others in the district have decided to start tracking those acceptances.

"The schools that were taking students off (the wait list) are schools that we usually don't hear of taking students off the wait list," Ribiero said. "It was something that was unusual."

What wasn't unusual, Ribiero said, is where the students were applying.

"Our kids are still applying all over the place," Ribiero said. There are students attending schools in other countries and as far as California and Florida.

The top 11 schools that students will attend in the fall are: The University of Connecticut, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, Boston University, University of Vermont, Villanova University, Miami University, Oxford in Ohio, Colgate University in New York, Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Hamilton College in New York, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. The last five colleges on the list each have five students from Darien attending in the fall.

Seventeen students, or 5.5 percent of the class, will be attend Ivy League schools in the fall, though none to Brown.

"That's Brown's loss," Ribiero said. Since 2010, 66 students have attended Ivy League schools.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4407; @Meg_DarienNews