UVA to eliminate early admissions

The University of Virginia announced Monday that it will eliminate its early decision program beginning with the Class of 2012, taking a cue from announcements in recent weeks of similar decisions by Harvard and Princeton.

The public university — which has had a binding early decision program in place since the 1960s — changed its policy in the hopes of removing the current system’s bias toward relatively high-income students, UVA officials said. Yale President Richard Levin said Tuesday night that the UVA announcement will influence Yale’s ongoing review of its admission policies.

“We’re having many conversations every day with high school principals and college counselors around the country,” Levin said. “I would not want to minimize this. We’re certainly going to take everything into account.”

The Advisory Committee on Yale College Admissions and Financial Aid Policy — which is co-chaired by Levin and Yale College Dean Peter Salovey and plays a role in the University’s annual admissions review process — held a meeting today, Levin said.

UVA Dean of Admissions John Blackburn said that although UVA largely made its decision after realizing that the school’s early decision pool had few low-income students and underrepresented minority groups on campus, the announcements by Harvard and Princeton facilitated the school’s ultimate decision.

“The more we looked at it, the more we realized that the results of early decision seemed inconsistent with the goals of our financial aid program,” Blackburn said. “By their doing it, it somehow changed the conversation. It was an important move for both of them, and I think it made our decision that much easier.”

When the UVA policy comes into effect, all applications to the school will be evaluated during a single admissions process with a Jan. 2 deadline.

Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said that the UVA announcement may prove significant in compelling schools both inside and outside the Ivy League to follow suit given its profile as a selective public school.

“I didn’t expect to see two such prestigious institutions follow suit so quickly,” Nassirian said. “It kind of looks like the beginning of a significant trend away from early admissions policies. Because [UVA] sort of bridges the two worlds between high selectivity and the public sector, it may actually prove operationally more consequential.”

Harvard announced it would eliminate its early action admissions program on Sept. 12. Princeton announced a week later that it would end its early decision program.

Both schools’ new policies will take effect for the Class of 2012. UVA, which has a student body of approximately 13,000 students, has in past years accepted about 30 percent of each entering class early.

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