Harvard and Princeton to Resume Early Admissions For Entering Class of 2016

A different college landscape will greet the Class of 2012 as Harvard University and Princeton University both announced plans to reinstitute their early admission programs for fall of 2011. Princeton and Harvard collaborated with two peer schools, Stanford and Yale University, to introduce a new “Restrictive Action” policy. According to Anne Ferguson, Acting Director of College Counseling, the restrictive action policy will allow students to apply to one of the four schools in November, but it does not require them to attend once admitted. Students who apply early will be notified of their admission status by December 15. “This policy significantly decreases the applicant pool for each of the colleges,” said Ferguson. Ferguson and other members of the College Counseling Office expect an increase in early admission applicants from Phillips Academy after the early admissions programs at these two schools begin. Over 70 percent of students in the class of 2011 applied early admission to college this year, an increase compared to last year’s statistic of 60 percent. Ferguson said Phillips Academy students were faced with a difficult decision this past fall when they realized that they could not apply early admission to the school of their choice, specifically Harvard or Princeton. “I think what often happens is that students who might have wanted to go to Harvard, decide that they might as well apply early-admission to Stanford or Yale just to see what happens,” said Ferguson. “The sense was that then, after they hear back from one of the universities, they could apply to Harvard during the regular season, depending on what happens.” “I am not sure if having Harvard and Princeton as options would have affected me personally, but I think it’s safe to say that it concentrated the number of applicants for Yale and Stanford, making early-admission more competitive altogether,” said Ben Brodie ’11. Hana Kim ’11 said, “I think if I had had the opportunity to apply to Harvard in the fall, I may not have considered applying to a university during the regular season at all.” Harvard and Princeton decided to eliminate their early admission programs in September 2006, announcing that they hoped to create a fair application process for applicants of all socioeconomic status. After four academic years, only the University of Virginia (UVA) followed Harvard and Princeton in eliminating their early admission program. UVA reinstated their early-admission policy in the fall of 2009. “After Princeton, Harvard and UVA all got rid of their early-admission programs, everyone expected that Yale and Stanford would soon follow. Because of this, many people were surprised when Yale announced a year later that they would be keeping early admissions,” said Ferguson. Contrary to what they initially hoped, admissions officials at Harvard and Princeton noticed fewer financial aid applicants applying during the regular season over the past four years. According to an article from the New York Times, such statistics suggested the convenience of early-admission programs in the midst of an economic crisis. “The admission staff members at Harvard are now saying that, by not having these programs, they are actually doing a disservice to the financially needy because of the record-breaking number of students who are now applying early to universities,” said Ferguson. Prior to eliminating their early-admission program, Princeton allowed students to apply early to several schools but required all students admitted early to matriculate the next fall. Harvard offered an early-admission program which allowed students to apply early to several colleges with no obligation to attend Harvard if admitted.