Good riddance. Harvard University, Princeton University, and The University
of Virginia have gotten rid of early admissions and it’s time for other schools to follow suit.
For those of us who don’t remember the college admission process like it was yesterday, early admission students apply months in advance to universities. Some perks are that early applicants tend to have a better chance of being accepted,
and high school seniors don’t have to worry about being in college limbo for as long.
However, early admissions tend to favor the wealthy and hurt the lower and middle classes. According to an article in “The Washington Post,” fewer than 20 out of 948 students who were accepted early to the University of Virginia applied for financial aid. For an out-of-state student at the University of Virginia, a year of school with housing costs $25,945.
Despite being accepted earlier, students do not find out what their financial aid packages are until later in the year. Many families decide which college to attend based on the financial aid offered. What’s more, most early admissions are binding, meaning that if a student is accepted early, they are required to attend that school.
Harvard started this trend in early September when it ended its early admissions program. Officials at Harvard said they dropped it in order to level the playing field and make it possible to achieve a more diverse student body.
I remember the frustration of applying to colleges and being told that if I didn’t apply early, I wouldn’t get in. However, I couldn’t apply early to many schools because I could not run the risk of being
contractually obligated to attend without knowing the status of financial aid. This is a story that a lot of college students
and high school upperclassmen can tell you all about.
Temple consistently ranks nationally in the top 10 for diversity, according to “The Princeton Review.” The university has a rolling admissions policy, meaning that students can apply at any time until the final deadline: March 1. DePaul University, which “The Princeton Review” ranked as the top school in the country for diversity, also has rolling admissions.
This is not a coincidence. There isn’t a separate pool for students who apply before Nov. 1 and students who apply after. The single pool of applicants means that to a greater degree the applicants are equals.
An argument in favor of early admissions is that, for second and third-tier schools, it is a way to guarantee a solid, incoming freshman class. Schools like Princeton, which “U.S. News and World Report” ranked as the top university in its report for 2007, and Harvard, which was ranked second, will always have the best and the brightest sending in applications and attending. Other schools may not have the same caliber of applicants.
However, is a process that excludes entire
classes of potential students worth the highest possible SAT average? Affirmative action is scorned for favoring some students over others. However, early admissions policies are even more insidious because anyone can enter the pool, but students who are dependent on financial aid might not be able to swim with the wealthier ones.
If all schools dropped the added stress and unfairness of early admissions, high school seniors would not have to endure as much stress and confusion about the college application process. Colleges could also work harder at attracting the most intelligent and diverse student
body it can achieve.
It’s nice to have college admission cleared before prom, but does it really matter?
For wealthy students, it doesn’t.
For less advantaged students, attending college has less to do with the acceptance letter and more to do with the financial aid letter. Giving these students a fair shot matters more. It’s time to let all college applicants swim in the same pool.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.