The Yale College Council passed a resolution Sunday night advocating a switch to a non-binding early application program that would allow students to apply early to only one college.
The resolution was written in response to Yale President Richard Levin’s December announcement that he would like to abolish the early decision process. He said early decision distorts the college admissions process and added that other schools using early decision have seen a decrease in socioeconomic diversity.
But Levin has said Yale cannot abandon the early decision program alone, and the YCC resolution encourages Levin to work together with other colleges to enact a revised early admissions program. The resolution said Levin should call for the formation of a committee of college representatives to debate the issue at or before this summer’s Ivy Presidents’ Meeting.
The resolution also said YCC representatives will discuss the issue at the next Ivy Council meeting and said the Yale administration should include undergraduate representatives in further discussions.
Resolution author Lindsey Parker ’04 said the current early decision has substantial problems. Students cannot compare financial aid packages, and students from high schools with fewer resources do not have guidance counselors who understand the nuances of the college admissions process, Parker said. She added that the early applicant pool is not reflective of the diversity of the total applicant pool.
Parker said eliminating early admissions programs altogether is a bad idea, and many admissions officers have said they will not eliminate early programs at their institutions. Such a change would cause the number of regular applications to skyrocket and create logistical problems for admissions offices, Parker said.
Parker said a revised program would help even the playing field because people applying in the regular applicant pool would have a better chance of being admitted. She also said the administration should keep examining early decision, whether or not it decides to implement the plan supported by the YCC.
“We feel there is a definite need to discuss this,” Parker said.
Parker and co-author YoonSeok Lee ’05 emphasized that Yale cannot successfully implement this program alone and will need the cooperation of other schools to make it work.
Several people in attendance raised the question of how to ensure that students will only apply to one institution, but Lee said he thought it was premature to talk about policing the system before it is put in place. Matthew Nickson ’03 suggested creating and using a database of applicants for competitive universities.
Nickson is a former editorials editor for the Yale Daily News.
Yale once had an early action program where students could apply to an unlimited number of colleges without being bound to attend any of them, but Parker said Yale changed to early decision because people were applying to several early action schools. Early decision only allows prospective students to apply to their first-choice school.
YCC Secretary Ryan Sheely ’04 was the only YCC member who opposed the resolution. He said he is in favor of revising the early decision program but did not think the YCC should commit itself to the revised early admissions program so soon.
“Basically I’m for the general gist of the resolution and especially for looking into changing the early process because I think there are a lot of problems with early decision as it exists now,” Sheely said. “At this point I think it’s premature to just exclude early decision altogether, and I think President Levin’s proposal was great and that started the ball rolling, but I [don’t want to] make a decision before all the facts are really in here.”
Sheely said he wants to do what is best both for Yale and for prospective students, and said he is in favor of having Levin discuss the issue with representatives of other Ivy League schools. He also said that, although it was a shame to vote against the resolution, he knew it would pass anyway.
“It’s still a great resolution and a great step for the YCC to be taking,” Sheely said.
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 met with Levin last week and said he thinks Levin will take the YCC’s recommendations seriously.
“I think that President Levin will take this advice to heart, and I believe that he’s already started what we’ve asked him to do in this resolution and that he’ll simply take this to be the backing that he needs,” Prabhakaran said.