EA policy violates NACAC compact

The early action policy Yale will adopt beginning with the Class of 2008, which prohibits students from applying elsewhere, violates a policy set by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, the organization’s vice president said.

According to guidelines established by NACAC — a coalition of college counselors and college admissions and financial aid officers — early applicants “may apply to other colleges without restriction.”

Yale President Richard Levin and Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said they plan to stick with restricted early action but will work closely with NACAC officials to reconcile their differences. Earlier this fall, Brown, Princeton and Stanford universities also announced they will not allow students to apply early to more than one school, violating NACAC policy.

The violation could result in sanctions being placed on Yale, said Martin Wilder, NACAC vice president for admission, counseling and enrollment practices. When schools violate the policy, the NACAC admission practices committee studies the allegation, contacts the school in question and finds a resolution or imposes sanctions, he said.

“If they felt there was an issue and it couldn’t be corrected, then they would pursue the options of sanctions,” Wilder said. “Sanctions are obviously a very last resort — the goal of this is resolution.”

But Wilder, Levin and Shaw said they think NACAC and Yale will be able to work together and avoid such action. Wilder said he has been in communication with Shaw since Yale announced its change this month.

“We’ve had some discussion and we expect the discussions to continue,” he said. “Hopefully in the future we can resolve this in a manner that will be satisfactory to both parties.”

Shaw and Levin both said that restricting students from applying early to more than one school was an essential part of the new admissions policy.

“We don’t want to sort of contribute to the chaos that I think we’re going to see this year by encouraging other students to collect lots of admissions early,” Shaw said. “You had the same kid getting in six places and carrying that all the way to the end and displacing other students. We just wanted to get out of this trophy collecting.”

Levin said Yale and Stanford’s new policies are actually a return to the original intent of early admissions, which was created so students could express preference for a school. On the same day Yale announced its change, Stanford also declared it would move to a restricted early action policy.

Levin said he is not concerned about violating the NACAC policy.

“So is Brown, so is Princeton, so is Stanford, so I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said. “The rationale is, if we really succeed in starting some movement in the direction of early action, this rule will become obsolete.”

When NACAC delegates laid out the early action guideline in the September 2001 “Definitions of Admission Decision Options” report, they did not consider it a radical move, Wilder said.

“It was generally understood by most in our profession, both guidance counselors and admissions officers, that early action was both nonbinding and nonrestrictive,” Wilder said. “So NACAC didn’t really institute a change in that, it was just reaffirming that policy.”

Wilder said the delegates have the option of revising NACAC policy at the next national council, in the fall of 2003.

Levin said he thought Yale would not have to choose between remaining in NACAC and preserving its new admissions policy.

“I don’t believe they’ll [expel us from the organization],” he said. “I believe we’ll work it out with them.”

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