Early admissions is widely used by selective colleges and universities. We identify some basic facts about early admissions policies, including the admissions advantage enjoyed by early applicants and patterns in application behavior, and propose a game-theoretic model that matches these facts. The key feature of the model is that colleges want to admit students who are enthusiastic about attending, and early admissions programs give students an opportunity to signal this enthusiasm.
Avery, Christopher, and Jonathan D. Levin. "Early Admissions at Selective Colleges." NBER Working Papers 14844, April 2009.