University News

Ivy schools reinstate early action

Contributing Writer
Monday, March 14, 2011

Harvard and Princeton will allow prospective students to apply through non-binding early action programs beginning this fall, the two schools announced Feb. 24. Both schools cancelled their early action and early decision programs in 2006 in favor of single rounds of admissions in the spring.

The single-admission policy was meant to give equal consideration to “excellent students from a broad array of backgrounds,” said Princeton President Shirley Tilghman in a Feb. 24 press release. By eliminating the early action option, the schools mitigated the advantage of students who were familiar with the college application process or who went to schools with strong admissions advisory programs.

“In eliminating our early program four years ago, we hoped other colleges and universities would do the same, and they haven’t,” Tilghman said in the release. “One consequence is that some students who really want to make their college decision as early as possible in their senior year apply to other schools early, even if their first choice is Princeton.”

With the exception of the University of Virginia, which adopted a single admission system in 2007 only to switch back last year, no other schools followed Harvard and Princeton’s lead, causing the two Ivy League schools to reconsider.

Because many factors influence trends in applications, it is hard to tell how strongly Harvard and Princeton’s policies on early admissions affect Brown’s admissions, wrote Dean of Admission James Miller ’73 in an e-mail to The Herald.

“We did not see an increase in our early decision pool when Harvard and Princeton dropped their early programs, so it is hard to predict that we will see a decrease as they reinstate their programs,” Miller wrote.

Of the eight Ivies, Harvard, Princeton and Yale will now be the only ones to offer non-binding early action programs. All others, including Brown, have binding early-decision programs, which require applicants to attend if accepted.

Early decision programs “tend to provide more certainty for the college in terms of constructing an incoming class, while giving students the chance to declare and commit themselves to a very clear first choice institution,” Miller wrote. “At this time, we have no plans to move to a single choice early action program.”

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