US early admissions lose favour

November 15, 2002

Competition among America's elite institutions for the best students has taken another twist with last week's announcements by Stanford and Yale universities that they will drop their early admissions policy from next year.

The so-called early-decision system allows students in their penultimate year of high school to apply to one university on the basis of their performance before sitting the scholastic aptitude test. If they are accepted, however, they are obliged to enrol.

About 400 universities operate the scheme, which allows universities to plan and saves them having to fend off competing schools' offers and counter-offers of financial aid and other enticements.

Record numbers of students have applied early rather than wait until spring to hear which school will admit them.

Students know that the odds of being accepted are much higher for applicants in the autumn. Yale took 37 per cent of its early applicants in 2000, compared with 16 per cent of those who applied through the traditional process. Stanford admitted 24 per cent of early applicants, compared with 14 per cent of regular applicants.

But Yale president Richard Levin said the system pushed students to choose a university before they were ready. "Early-decision programmes help colleges more than applicants. It is our hope to take pressure off students in the early cycle and restore a measure of reasoned choice."

The change was approved by a committee of faculty and administrators and endorsed by Yale's undergraduate student government.

Stanford president John Hennessy said: "We have been deeply concerned about the tremendous pressures that talented young people face as they apply to colleges like Stanford. This new policy offers those who have set their hearts on attending Stanford the opportunity to apply early in their senior year, without the additional pressure of having to commit before they are ready."

Yale and Stanford said it was a coincidence that both had announced their decisions at the same time. They had waited until the November 1 early admission decision had passed.

Other universities, including Princeton, Brown and Pennsylvania, are sticking by early admission, as is Harvard, which suggested in June that it might drop out but then revised its view under pressure from rival universities.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns