53 Percent of Seniors Receive Acceptances In Early Round of College Admissions

In a time of increasing competition in college admissions, Andover seniors who applied Early Action or Early Decision to over 40 colleges and universities faired well, receiving a higher percentage of acceptance letters this year than in the past (53.3 percent). Applicants received notification over break or during the final examination week of last term. Of the students in the senior class who took advantage of the early programs, 84 of approximately 160 students received acceptance letters. As in previous years, Ivy League schools were popular choices for Andover students. Harvard received 38 applications, the most of any school; Yale, 21; University of Pennsylvania, 13; and Princeton, 11. Other favorites included Georgetown, the University of Chicago, and Boston College respectively receiving 15, 13, and 11 applications. The acceptance yield rate was higher than in previous years, 53.3 percent of students were accepted this year, compared with 48.5 percent last year, and 41 percent in 2001. Students did especially well at Princeton (9 or 82 percent admitted), Dartmouth (4 or 80 percent admitted), Boston College (7 or 64 percent admitted), and the University of Pennsylvania (8 or 62 percent admitted). Admittance rates to Yale University, however, were discouraging with only 5 acceptances, compared to last year’s 11 acceptances. Yale also rejected more students this year (7) than it did last year (3) though the number of students applying did not fluctuate greatly. Director of the College Counseling Office John Anderson said as he looked at this year’s results, “nothing jumped out as hugely different. I think that consistency itself could be counted as one of the trends- popular schools remained popular.” Early admission offers students who have decided which schools are their top one or two choices to learn of the results of their applications more than three months earlier than students who choose to apply though the regular process. Depending on the school they are applying to, students go through either an Early Application or Early Decision program. Early Decision applications are binding, so that if accepted, a student must attend the school (except in cases of severe financial difficulties). Early Action policies are not binding, and student can apply to as many EA schools as they wish without being committed to matriculate at any if admitted. Mr. Anderson also noted that although schools such as Harvard and Boston College saw a huge rise in the number of applicants to their early admission programs, the number and percentage of seniors who applied early from PA this year was down, almost 5 percent less than last year’s numbers. He attributes the decline in part to the recent controversy over the entire early admissions process. The debate was ignited in December of 2001, when President of Yale University Richard Levin said in an interview, “If we all got rid of [the Early Decision program], it would be a good thing.” Levin and his supporters feel that Early Decision puts “unnecessary pressure on students too early in their high school careers.” Mr. Anderson echoed these sentiments, saying, “There now seems to be a cachet to saying ‘I applied early.’ Students are rushed into deciding to apply early, not because the school is best suited to them, but because they think they it will give them leverage.” Phoebe Rockwood ’03 also agreed, “[Early admissions] extends the college process into upper year and all through senior year, and that increases the time involved, the stress, and the perceived importance [of getting in].” Critics of the early system also point out that the students who apply early tend to be a much more homogeneous group than those who apply regularly. Cornell President Hunter R. Rawlings pointed out that “historically, for the most part, [early admissions] has been an upper-middle-class-white-student-from-the-Northeast phenomenon.” Now that some schools are accepting up to 30 or 40 percent of their incoming students from early applications, it is feared that there will be little room left for students of color or varied financial background. In response to the ongoing debate, the University of North Carolina switched from an Early Decision to an Early Action system for this year’s applicants. Stanford and Yale have announced that they will follow suit next year, implementing a program that combines the exclusivity of the ED applications, with the non-binding freedom that EA offers. Mr. Anderson predicts that there will be an influx of applications to Stanford and Yale next year, due to the policy change. “Students are taking the ‘nothing to lose’ policy in regard to the EA applications. It’s a very cavalier attitude.”