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March 23, 2007

Early Action / Early Decision Programs

While not strictly "law," school policies with regard to maintaining "early action" or "early decision" admissions regimes can have a significant impact on less well off students and their ability to best chart their course in higher education. 

In Jan. 2007, Yale announced that it was keeping its early action program, despite both Harvard and Princeton having decided to abandon early action, and ever since then Yale's alumni relations apparatus has been busy apologizing for that decision.  In an interview with the Alumni magazine, Yale's president rejected Harvard President's description of early action "advantaging the advantaged," insisting that "we don't believe that eliminating early admissions would change the socioeconomic diversity of the class." 

To be honest, I would not have found this worth blogging about till Yale sent a recent email, not two months after announcing it was keeping early action, that included the teaser, "Yale Committed to Assisting Student Economic Diversity."  The link associated with the teaser was to a press release on the partnership with College Summit, a group that seems like a good non-profit, but it seemed nevertheless a somewhat ironic teaser and a classic case of political doublespeak.  My own experience was that students who applied regular decision, while having lesser odds of getting in, had greater ability to argue for changes in their need based aid and so I was advised to apply regular decision for that benefit (advice I ignored). 

A current Harvard Law 3L, Martin Kurzweil co-authored with William G. Bowen and Eugene M. Tobin a highly honored book, "Equity and Education." Equity_and_education Their research would not support Yale's program it seems.  As they write, "These programs do not support the equity objectives that concern us in this study ... institutional benefits seem far from compelling, especially when one counts the equity costs and takes a system-wide perspective." (174-175) 

Joining_the_elite More on early admissions programs can be found in Christopher Avery, Andrew Fairbanks & Richard Zeckhauser's The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite (2003), or through an earlier summary paper they posted here

-E.R. erosser@wcl.american.edu      

March 23, 2007 | Permalink


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