Don't Call It A Comeback

Submitted by ashley on Sun, 03/13/2011 - 12:32am

Early Action Makes a Triumphant Return


If you’ve been following us on twitter, you know that this has been an eventful week in college news. Not only are admissions committees engaged in final deliberations, but several schools have also announced major overhauls of their application procedures. For rising seniors, this means a greater number of you may be able to take a deep breath and relax come mid-December.


Last November, UVa decided scrap its “single-admission” program and bring back a non-binding early action option for applicants. After this announcement was made, it was only a matter of time before Harvard followed suit; after all, Harvard had been expressing discontent with its 4-year experiment in single-deadline admissions for quite some time. One Harvard faculty member even bemoaned the fact that, “many highly talented students, including some of the best-prepared low income and underrepresented minority students, were choosing programs with an early-action option, and therefore were missing out on the opportunity to consider Harvard.”


However, Princeton’s decision to jump ship after aggressively championing the experiment came as a huge surprise. As recently as July, Princeton President Shirley Tilghman had confirmed the school’s commitment to what she considered a more equitable approach to admissions. Unfortunately, if your biggest competitors are giving students a chance to secure spots in advance, you can’t be left behind.


Both Princeton and Harvard are offering single-choice early action much like the programs at Stanford and Yale, meaning that while the decision is non-binding, you can’t cast more than one net in the first round.


This is definitely a step in the right direction for these schools. Every single one of my top students applied early to Yale this fall, and many mentioned that they would have preferred Princeton or Harvard if those schools had an early alternative. Of course, this was a great advantage for Yale, so it can’t be happy about the back-to-back announcements. In any case, I’m anxious to see how different the admissions landscape looks this fall!