Harvard, Princeton End Early Admissions

Taylor Fife

When Harvard announced that it would discontinue its early admissions program two weeks ago the academic world predicted that other elite schools would follow suit, but the speed at which Princeton followed Harvard’s league was astounding. Only one week after Harvard’s interim President Derek C. Bok said that “early admission programs tend to advantage the advantaged,” Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman echoed Harvard’s words verbatim. At most schools with early admissions programs accepted students are required to sign an agreement stating that if accepted they will not apply to other institutions. Because of this, students who wish to apply to schools and compare financial aid packages are not able to take advantage of the early admissions process. In addition, students that attend high schools with limited counselor resources may not be aware of the often complicated processes involved in early admissions. Princeton had been considering doing away with early admissions for a number of years, but after Harvard made the first move, Princeton could more easily follow. Elite schools get a significant return from early admissions programs, attracting the best students and reducing competition from similar universities. Schools with binding early admissions also increase their yield (the percentage of accepted students that choose to attend) through early admissions. Yield is often considered one of the most important factors in determining the desirability and prestige of a university. Harvard and Princeton will end their policy of early admissions starting with the class of 2012. Both universities hope that by then other elite colleges will follow their lead. Less prestigious schools with early admissions have much more to lose by ending early admissions and it remains to be seen whether or not this program will continue there.