Impact of Early Action still unclear

With early applications due tomorrow, the effects of Yale’s recent switch from binding Early Decision to single-choice Early Action are still unclear.

Under the new plan, which Yale President Richard Levin announced last Nov. 6, students may apply early to Yale without committing to matriculate but may not apply early to other schools. Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said the number of early applications appears to be up from last year, but it is still too early to predict whether the switch will cause a significant increase.

“Early returns seem to show we are ahead of last year,” he said.

Shaw said many early applications, which must be postmarked by Nov. 1, could arrive as late as Wednesday.

“A lot of it comes to us right at the very end — particularly in the mail,” he said.

Harvard University’s early action program also has a Nov. 1 deadline. Andrea Shen, a spokeswoman for the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said it was too early to tell how many applicants the school would ultimately receive.

Harvard announced in April that it would no longer allow students who apply under its Early Action option to send early applications to other schools.

Princeton University still has a binding early decision program, which also has a Nov. 1 deadline. Princeton Dean of Admissions Janet Rapelye said she, too, did not have “concrete” numbers on how many applications her office has received.

Levin announced in 2001 that he would like to see all early admissions programs eliminated. Last November, Yale and Stanford University announced the same day that they would switch from binding Early Decision to single-choice Early Action. At the time, Levin said the change was a first step toward ending early admissions.

Shaw said the switch has elicited a positive response from high school students because it allows them to “keep their options open.”

“The vast majority feel comfortable with this new single-choice Early Action,” he said.

Marjorie Jacobs, Director of Counseling at Scarsdale High School, said that, despite the switch, there are still flaws in the early admissions program.

“I don’t think it makes a lot of difference,” she said.

Jacobs said she thinks early action encourages students who are accepted to apply to other schools and accumulate “trophy” acceptance letters. Students from Scarsdale High accepted under Early Action are only allowed to complete one additional application, she said.

Shaw acknowledged that the possibility of “trophy hunting” was a downside to Yale’s new plan.

“There’s no easy response to any of these issues,” he said. “One hopes [early applicants] are making the selection because it’s clearly their first choice.”

Shaw said he hopes the vast majority of students accepted early to Yale under the new plan will matriculate. He also said Early Action, which allows students to wait until as late as May 1 to respond to an offer of admission, provides a better opportunity for applicants to examine different financial aid packages.

Yale received approximately 2,600 early applications last year and 2,100 applications in 2001. Last year, Yale admitted 557 early applicants, 43 percent of the class of 2007.

Aaron Brockway, an office assistant in the Admissions Office, files Early Action paperwork. Early applications from prospective Yalies must be mailed by tomorrow.
Leo Stevens
Aaron Brockway, an office assistant in the Admissions Office, files Early Action paperwork. Early applications from prospective Yalies must be mailed by tomorrow.

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