|09-13-2006, 10:06 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Folsom Prison
early college admissions
Maybe not an issue to many, but I'm glad to see this.
Eliminating Early Admissions
Published: September 13, 2006
Harvard did the right thing by abandoning its early admissions program, the first elite college to do so. We hope other institutions follow its lead and eliminate a process that is inevitably unfair and simply increases the frenzy of a college application process that is unnecessarily pressurized.
Early admissions programs allow students to apply early, typically in November, and get a prompt answer, usually in mid-December, before the regular application season begins in January. The most draconian of these programs require students to agree in advance that they will accept admission if it is offered. Those rejected have a couple of frantic weeks to apply elsewhere.
Colleges love these programs because they can lock in students who really want to enroll, gain an early sense of how admissions are going, and spread out the workload of evaluating applicants. For high-achieving students, it means knowing early whether they will get into their dream college. There is some evidence that applying early increases the chance of admission.
But educators have come to realize that the binding programs have two pernicious effects. They discriminate against students who need financial aid and thus canít commit themselves to one university before they have a chance to compare the aid packages offered by other schools. And they force students to pick a college in the fall, rather than make a more considered choice in the spring.
Harvard has long had a relatively relaxed policy that mitigates some of these problems. Students who apply by Nov. 1 are notified by Dec. 15 as to whether they are admitted, rejected or deferred to the regular pool for further consideration. They donít have to answer Harvardís offer of admission until May 1 and can shop around for better offers. Several other schools, including Yale and Stanford, have adopted similar policies.
Now Harvard has decided to go cold turkey and eliminate its early admissions program beginning with the freshman class entering in September 2008. This is a big step given that 38 percent of the students admitted last year were granted early admission. There will be a two- to three-year trial period to make sure the change does not adversely affect student quality.
Harvard cited several good reasons for the change. It will make the system fairer because students from sophisticated backgrounds and affluent high schools are far more likely to apply for an early admission than minority students or those from high schools with few counselors. It will help reduce the frenzy that has high school students worrying about college choices in their junior years. It will give admissions officers another semester of performance to consider instead of basing early admission on the junior-year record. And there will be the collateral benefit of encouraging high school seniors to keep studying well into the spring instead of goofing off the minute they receive early admission.
By delaying its shift until next fall, Harvard hopes that other institutions will join it. The University of Delaware has already announced a similar move. Harried students and parents should welcome these steps toward a more sensible process.