The Case for Early Action

William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard University, said it best: Early Decision advantages the advantaged. Last year, when Princeton and Yale elected to eliminate Early Decision, top-tier schools like Stanford and the University of Virginia were quick to follow suit. Yet the rest of the Ivies have maintained their Early Decision programs. The Phillipian condemns this decision. Sending out an ED application is essentially signing a binding contract, one that most students cannot afford to blindly sign onto. Low-income students need to be assured of substantial financial aid before committing to a school. ED effectively prevents low-income students from applying early. ED also disadvantages middle-income students, as it does not allow for the comparison of financial aid packages. We may cherish the concept of early devotion to our dream school, but we do acknowledge that Early Decision programs give a serious leg up to affluent students who can afford to be bound. ED does give schools the advantage of indentifying their most interested schools. However, Single Choice Early Action gives school the same advantage, and colleges should acknowledge this. SCEA is the best compromise between universities who can afford to eliminate early admissions altogether and other school who realize that they lose an admitted student when pinned against Harvard or Princeton. With SCEA, students may only apply to one school early. But, even if admitted early, they can continue to apply to other universities Thus, SCEA allows students to demonstrate serious interest in their dream school without the nightmare of a binding acceptance to a school they may not be able to afford. This fall, 42 Andover seniors applied SCEA to Yale, 25 to Stanford. In a little more than a week, these seniors will receive admissions decisions. Not only with these decisions affect early applicants, but they will affect the regular decision cycle. SCEA allows all top competitors to apply to top school. If admitted early, then they will no longer need to apply to back-ups. Not only does this mean higher yield rates across the board, it means better chances for students applying to the back-ups of the top students. We commend Stanford and Yale for replacing their ED programs with Single Choice Early Action. The overwhelming number of this year’s seniors who chose to apply SCEA may be an indication of upcoming trends in the college admissions process. Single Choice Early Action is the application process of the future. If schools hope to stay competitive in today’s academic society, it may benefit them to follow suit.