Yale’s switch to a non-binding early admissions program reflects the product of 11 months of deliberation by University officials, who considered options ranging from scrapping early admissions entirely to not changing Yale’s policy at all, Yale Corporation members said Thursday.
Yale’s decision, which will allow students to apply early but does not require them to attend Yale, came approximately one year after Yale President Richard Levin announced he wanted to abolish early admissions programs. After nearly a year of deliberation, Levin and a faculty committee recommended switching to early action, rather than eliminating early admissions.
Members of the Yale Corporation, which approved the policy change in September, characterized Wednesday’s announcement as a pragmatic decision.
Corporation member Roland Betts said three alternatives were seriously considered — keeping early decision, scrapping early admissions altogether and switching to early action.
Betts said University leaders also considered capping the number of students accepted under early decision, but said this was not a serious consideration. Betts said capping the number of students could make things worse, as it would create intense competition for a limited number of spots.
Corporation member Janet Yellen said the University decided not to eliminate early admissions altogether because of competition from other schools.
“I think [Levin has] made it clear that he wants to move [away from early admissions], but Yale is not prepared to ignore the behavior of its competitors,” Yellen said.
Betts said there was no dissent among Corporation members on supporting the committee’s proposal to switch to early action.
“I don’t think anybody really disagreed with this,” Betts said. “There was no vote, but no one was uncomfortable with it.”
Betts said the Corporation decided to announce the decision after Nov. 1 to avoid confusing this year’s early applicants.
Under the new policy, students can apply to Yale by Nov. 1 and learn of their admissions decision by mid-December. While early decision requires admitted students to attend, early action requires no commitment and students can apply regular decision to other schools. But under Yale’s new policy, applicants will not be allowed to apply early action to multiple schools.
Levin said the switch to early action would allow students to express their first choice school without having to make a commitment early in their senior year. He also said the policy change enables students in need of financial aid to apply early because they can apply to other schools regular decision and compare financial aid packages.
But Levin also said he still hopes to ultimately eliminate early admissions, but cannot do so unless other schools change their policies as well.
Stanford University announced Wednesday it would also switch to early action, following Levin’s announcement.