Last week, Yale University announced that it would keep its early admissions program, going against the precedent set by Harvard, which will abolish early admissions starting with the Class of 2011.
Yale’s Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel declined to comment and referred to Yale President Richard Levin’s comments in the current issue of Yale Alumni Magazine.
In the published interview, Levin said that the primary reason Yale was not going the way of its peer universities was that they believed the early admissions program did not affect class diversity.
“To the extent we are concerned that we are not providing enough opportunity for students from low-income families in the first round [of admissions], we can compensate in the second round,” Levin said. “Early admissions need not affect the overall demographics of the class.”
However, according to Harvard College Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, early admissions benefit privileged students because they are the most likely to apply in the first round.
But Levin said that all schools would have to eliminate it “to achieve the desired result” and added that this outcome is “very unlikely.”
“If Yale were to eliminate early admissions now, we would end up with a system where the top three or five schools had no early program, and just about everybody else did,” he said. “That wouldn’t solve many problems and would create some new ones.”
According to Levin, if all top tier schools were to end early admissions, the best students at every high school would get acceptance offers from these top tier schools and from some schools in the next tier. Meanwhile, students who did not perform as well in high school and who otherwise could have gotten into some of these schools, would end up getting waitlisted or rejected.
“Our switch to non-binding early action gave applicants more options. What Harvard has done by eliminating early action gives applicants fewer options,” he said.
However, Fitzsimmons disagreed with this view.
“We made the decision because we felt that even our nonbinding program contributes to the pressures and inequities of the college admissions process,” he said in a statement.
Yale’s admissions officers asked college counselors at high schools they visited this fall for their opinion.
“Opinions were divided but a great many thought that Yale should keep its early action program and not follow Harvard and Princeton,” Levin said.
In an earlier interview, Fitzsimmons had mentioned that the single application deadline was in a trial period and results would be reviewed after two or three years as Harvard continues to get more information about its effectiveness.
Yesterday, he said that Harvard is “standing by its decision.”
“We continue to hope that other schools will join us because we believe that this change will sharpen the focus of the admissions process on its most important goal—helping students find the right college match,” Fitzsimmons said.