Yale will continue its early action program, despite the recent elimination of early admissions at Harvard and Princeton, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel announced Thursday.
The University began a review of its admissions program after Harvard and Princeton eliminated their respective early action and early decision programs in September. But Brenzel and Yale President Richard Levin said they ultimately disagreed with the reasons that their counterparts offered for those changes, including the argument that low-income applicants are disadvantaged by early admissions.
Brenzel said the nonbinding early action program gives applicants the most flexibility in making their college choices.
“This provision provides students the option of expressing a preference for Yale, while freeing them from the pressures associated with binding early decision programs,” he said.
In an interview for the January-February edition of the Yale Alumni Magazine, Levin said the situation has changed since he stated in 2002 that he would like to see early admissions eliminated everywhere.
“I emphasized that every school would have to eliminate early admissions to achieve the desired result. But this is very unlikely to happen,” Levin said. “If Yale were to eliminate early admissions now, it is most likely that we would end up with a system where the top three or five schools had no early program, and just about everybody else did. That wouldn’t solve many problems and would create some new ones.”
When Harvard and Princeton announced they would eliminate early admissions, they suggested that early admissions may disadvantage financial aid applicants, who are less likely to apply early.
Levin said that when the Yale admissions officers spoke to high school counselors and administrators during their recruiting trips this fall, the consensus was that Yale’s early action program should be retained. The counselors and administrators suggested that eliminating early action might shift the applicant pool so that more competitive students receive offers from schools in the next tier that would otherwise have gone to other applicants, Levin said.
“If none of the top schools had an early admissions program, the very best students would likely apply to three or four of the top schools each,” Levin said. “They would tend to collect multiple offers, causing students who ranked slightly lower to be placed on waiting lists or rejected — not just at the top schools, but even at schools in the next tier down. This wouldn’t be a very desirable outcome.”
But Brenzel said the flexibility of early action, as opposed to early decision, means that applicants from low-income families are able to consider financial aid before making a final decision about where to go to school.
“Nonbinding early admissions allows prospective students to compare financial aid offers from different schools before making a final decision in the spring about where to attend,” he said.
Since switching from early decision to early action in 2002, Yale has seen an increase in the number of financial aid students who apply early, Levin said. In addition. Yale and Harvard have launched new efforts to improve their financial aid packages for low-income students.
This fall, Yale accepted 709 students from 3,594 early applicants for an admit rate of 19.7 percent, an increase from last year’s Ivy League record-low acceptance rate of 17.7 percent.
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