Brown, Princeton breach early admissions pact

Brown and Princeton will no longer allow early decision candidates to apply to other colleges through non-binding early action programs, the schools said Wednesday.

The Brown and Princeton decisions violate a new policy of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, or NACAC. To comply with the policy change, Yale now allows its early decision candidates to file early action applications with other schools.

The decisions at Brown and Princeton come as Yale reconsiders its own early application policy. The University plans to make an announcement about the fate of its early admissions program within the next few weeks, Yale President Richard Levin said Wednesday.

Under Yale’s current early admissions program, students must pledge to matriculate before they apply.

Levin sparked a national debate in December when he told The New York Times that he believes Yale and its peer institutions should move to abandon early decision because of the added and unnecessary pressure it generates among high school students.

“Certainly President Levin’s act stimulated the discussion,” Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said.

“We have chosen to subscribe to [NACAC’s] policy, as has Harvard,” Shaw added.

In the past, NACAC prohibited students who applied early decision to one school from applying early action to other schools. But under the new policy, which takes effect next year, students will be allowed to apply early action even if they applied early decision to another institution.

Under current policies at Princeton and Brown, applicants do not have this option.

Brown Director of College Admissions Michael Goldberger said in an e-mail that he disagreed with the NACAC policy.

“Allowing students to apply to both early decision and early action schools is like being engaged to be married to one person and continuing to date others in case things don’t work out,” Goldberger said.

Goldberger told The New York Times that Brown’s decision was aimed at “limiting the flood of early applications.”

Goldberger added that the early decision application process “should be about applying to the right match, not maximizing the strategic chances of admission.”

Princeton Dean of Admissions Fred Hargadon did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.

According to The New York Times, NACAC took no disciplinary action against Brown and Princeton for imposing restrictions on early applicants.

NACAC, which represents 8,000 college admissions officers and high school counselors, has established standardized guidelines regarding college admissions policies.

Martin Wilder Jr., NACAC vice president for admission, told The New York Times that in many cases the early admission process has been “distorted by the frenzy of the day.”

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