Harvard, Princeton stir early admissions debate
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 24, 2006
The recent decisions by Harvard and Princeton to drop early admissions have reignited a debate: Is ending the practice a recipe for making the college application process better, or worse?
Starting with the class entering in 2008, the Ivy League schools will cut programs common at many American universities that give high school seniors who apply in the fall a decision by mid December - before most regular admissions application deadlines.
Now, they will evaluate all students in the same pool and notify everyone together in the spring.
The schools contend early admissions discriminates against disadvantaged students and fuels anxiety.
Only a tiny sliver of students will be affected by Harvard's and Princeton's decisions, but the schools' prominence - and the prospect of other schools following suit - have sparked debate about whether ending early admissions will improve the application process.
Many support the changes, saying early admissions discriminates against disadvantaged students. They say poorer families won't risk committing to a school without seeing what financial aid they are offered elsewhere.
But others say ending early admissions will add to applicants' anxiety.
"In terms of the frenzy part of it, what this is going to do is just shift it all to the end of the year," said Peter Neely, director of studies at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass.
High school counselors have applauded the intentions but say any change will have winners and losers.
"There's no easy answer," said Marybeth Kravets, a counselor at Deerfield High School in suburban Chicago. "For the right kid and the right school, (early admission) is a blessing. And yet you want this to be a level playing field."