Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Single Choice EA Surges--But with the Middle Class Caught in the Middle (Again)

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,597 Senior Member
edited November 2011 in College Admissions
According to Jacques Steinberg, of The New York Times college-admissions blog, "The Choice," Early Admission Returns to Princeton, and So Do the Applicants - NYTimes.com

Of course, this stampede doesn't surprise me at all, and I was actually annoyed when Harvard and Princeton abandoned their Early options four years ago.

But what DOES irk me is the "Single Choice" piece of the SCEA policies. Once again, I see middle-income applicants caught in the middle. In order to apply to SCEA colleges, they cannot also shoot for some of the top full-tuition scholarships at other private institutions. For instance, Boston College's Presidential Scholars and Notre Dame's Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars program both require EA applications, as do similar merit options at other highly selective schools.

The Single-Choice Early Action programs at Princeton and Harvard (as well as at Stanford and Yale) can be attractive to well-heeled candidates who aren't worried about price tag and also to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who, if admitted, can count on excellent need-based financial aid.

But for everyone else in between, SCEA can be off limits. Passing up a shot at a big scholarship at a well-respected school like BC or ND can be a giant price to pay, given that the admission odds at the SCEA universities are so steep.

So I would like to see the current "elite" SCEA schools band together to create a new type of restricted admission policy which could prohibit more than one application to a fellow SCEA school but would allow all OTHER Early Action applications elsewhere ... or at least to any college where merit money is on the table.

Granted, this isn't the only way that middle-income students are penalized in the admissions process. But it seems to me to be especially unfair to put unnecessary "Single Choice" restrictions on Early Action policies.

Some of the admissions deans who have opted for Early Action in lieu of the binding Early Decision claim that they've done so in order to provide more flexibility to those prospective students for whom money matters. But by sneaking in the "Single Choice" restriction, the colleges are not offering this flexibility to many strong candidates--including the blue-collar students that they claim they want to woo--who can't afford to ignore the best merit aid opportunities.
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on
«1345

Replies to: Single Choice EA Surges--But with the Middle Class Caught in the Middle (Again)

  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    The Single-Choice Early Action programs at Princeton and Harvard (as well as at Stanford and Yale) can be attractive to well-heeled candidates who aren't worried about price tag and also to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who, if admitted, can count on excellent need-based financial aid.

    But for everyone else in between, SCEA can be off limits. Passing up a shot at a big scholarship at a well-respected school like BC or ND can be a giant price to pay, given that the admission odds at the SCEA universities are so steep.

    Please note that there are some exceptions in the SC policies:

    S has an exception for scholarships:

    Restrictive Early Action : Stanford University
    Exceptions
    The student may apply to any college/university with early deadlines for scholarships or special academic programs as long as the decision is non-binding.

    H has an exception for scholarships for IS publics:

    Harvard College Admissions § Applying: Early Action
    I am eligible for scholarships at my home state's institution only if I apply Early Action. Am I allowed to apply to Harvard Single Choice Early Action as well as to my state school?
    Yes.

    And all of the schools have policies that permit IS and/or rolling admission colleges.

    Please understand, I am not trying to defend these policies or deny some of your points, just bringing out some of the finer points.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,597 Senior Member
    Yes, entomom, Stanford has the sanest SCEA policy, in my opinion; thanks for pointing that out. And those who read the fine print will find some wiggle room elsewhere, as well. For instance, applicants to Notre Dame's Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars program are told to contact the school if they won't be applying EA (which suggests to me that ND may allow a Regular Decision application when there are extenuating circumstances).

    But seniors today need a personal secretary (or at least a willing--albeit beleaguered--parent) to keep track of all the EA rules, exceptions, and discrepancies, and these can be absurdly time-consuming and stressful to ferret out and follow.
  • marysidneymarysidney Registered User Posts: 572 Member
    Early Action is not supposed to give the student much of an advantage, unlike ED; theoretically, the student (who, say the colleges, would have gotten in anyway) just gets to find out earlier--the early application is more for the college's benefit than the students'. If this is true, a student who wants to apply for a scholarship should just go ahead and apply, and apply to Harvard, et. al., regular decision, if he likes. Or do you think that EA does confer a real boost, after all?
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,597 Senior Member
    Or do you think that EA does confer a real boost, after all?

    Good question, marysidney. Although college admission officials may insist otherwise, I do think that SINGLE CHOICE Early Action does give at least a small boost because it sends a message that proclaims, "This college is my first choice." Although the admission folks at the SCEA colleges can't swear in blood that all who are admitted in December will actually show up the following fall, the odds are good.

    And even if a student isn't accepted by the SCEA college in the early round, this tiny boost may carry over to Regular Decision when the admission committees are making those final fine-tuning decisions. The fact that an applicant has indicated (via an EA application) that this college is (or at least was) a first choice might give him or her a slight edge over someone who didn't show comparable love back in November.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,107 Senior Member
    Even if there is no boost in chance of admission, a student who applies EA and is accepted with sufficient financial aid gains a safety. This may allow dropping other schools (whether reach, match, or safety) from the application list that s/he would not choose to attend over the school that s/he was accepted EA with sufficient financial aid.
  • entomomentomom Registered User Posts: 23,662 Senior Member
    I do think that SINGLE CHOICE Early Action does give at least a small boost because it sends a message that proclaims, "This college is my first choice." Although the admission folks at the SCEA colleges can't swear in blood that all who are admitted in December will actually show up the following fall, the odds are good.

    And even if a student isn't accepted by the SCEA college in the early round, this tiny boost may carry over to Regular Decision when the admission committees are making those final fine-tuning decisions. The fact that an applicant has indicated (via an EA application) that this college is (or at least was) a first choice might give him or her a slight edge over someone who didn't show comparable love back in November.

    Your second point about EA applicants deferred to the RD round getting a slight tip may have some merit.

    However, I think that the only EA candidates that see a slight edge in Dec. are unquestionably outstanding applicants who are likely to be accepted by other peer schools in the RD round if they choose to apply. I don't think it's showing interest and yield that gets them accepted, but rather that they are the cream of the crop, candidates that would be accepted in ANY applicant pool. It's the school really wanting the student that spurs the acceptance, not vice versa. Acceptance in the EA round gives the school several months to woo these highly sought after students. Competitive, but not standout applicants, are deferred to RD where they can be compared in the larger pool of candidates.

    Brenzel of Y:

    Early admit rate rises slightly | Yale Daily News
    Our applicants continue to be an exceptionally talented, highly diverse group of students,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel said in an e-mail. “As always, we only accepted students that we were certain we would also accept in the spring
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,168 Senior Member
    It depends on your definition of middle class. The big boys cap tuition at what, 10% of income up to $180k. Thus, a middle-incomer would pay little to attend HYP. Someone with a $150k income would pay $15k, and likely receive the rest in need-based aid. A lower income family would pay even less.

    BC's Presidential Scholarship, awarded to ~15 people each year, is tuition only. Same income would pay $15k to attend BC. But BC does not have a generous need-formula -- so a lower income family would still pay $15k.

    Ballpark numbers for sure, but just showing that missing out on an application to BC is not missing out on much potential money or benies. (The perqs at BC are wonderful, not bcos they are so special, but bcos they are special at BC; such things are offered to every student at HYP.) And from a practical standpoint, those students with the #'s to be awarded a Presidential Scholly from BC are also accepted to the Ivies in RD. Further, those who do win the Presidential Scholly tend to be wealthy anyway. (Working as box boy/girl will not garner the ECs to be in competition.)
  • texaspgtexaspg Super Moderator Posts: 16,588 Super Moderator
    I suspect Stanford amended its policy not for the likes of BC or NotreDame but for in state USC which has an early deadline for scholarships of December 1st and USC has a lot more scholarships than 15 and a variety of them.
  • marysidneymarysidney Registered User Posts: 572 Member
    I understand your points about single-choice early admission, but it seems to me that for a student from a not-0-EFC household, the decision of whether or not to apply ED is much more difficult and unfair, compared with kids who are not concerned with financial aid, especially given the more considerable boost of ED. The usual advice is not to apply ED if you need financial aid, and I think that's a real handicap for students who are not slam-dunk, and who are also uncertain of what kind of aid they might get. Students then have a choice between taking a chance on getting a good package (without a sense of what other options they might have had), or not getting in at all. This bothers me more than the SCEA option, which does still leave the student with choices.

    In addition, every school my daughter liked is ED, which put a good deal of pressure on her to make up her mind, absolutely and for sure, about which one she liked best, by October of her senior year. If she had had the option of EA, or even SCEA, she would have felt less pressured and more able to focus on her coursework.

    I think that either early programs should be entirely scrapped, or they should be more uniform: let's say, each kid gets to apply early to three schools. If he or she gets in to one, great, she or he is done, and may not clog up the process by applying regular anywhere else. If not, apply regular as before.
  • 62815976281597 Registered User Posts: 286 Junior Member
    I don't understand why SC EA/ED hurts the middle class.

    SC EA/ED is NOT a legally binding agreement. It is a promise that students can choose to break if they wish.

    There is not a "college admissions police force" that will hunt a student down if they break this promise. Yes - some people will think you're a slimeball, but it's not something that will follow you too far.
  • keabie18keabie18 Registered User Posts: 414 Member
    The whole single choice thing is a way of giving applicants an edge similar to what an applicant gets by doing ED, saying that it is their first choice school, but without the binding agreement. Like others said, if the application is strong enough for a student to get one of 15 full scholarships at BC, out of over 9,000 accepted students, they should certainly be able to gain acceptance at HYP without SCEA. OP, yes acceptance rates at HYP are steep at as low as 9%, but I think the rate of freshman admitted students for example at BC is a lot steeper, at 0.17%.
  • texaspgtexaspg Super Moderator Posts: 16,588 Super Moderator
    "but I think the rate of freshman admitted students for example at BC is a lot steeper, at 0.17%. "

    What does that mean?
  • born2dance94born2dance94 Registered User Posts: 1,646 Senior Member
    I don't know if I'd say that SCEA portrays to a school that it is a kid's first choice. It very well may be, but it could also just be a reach that they are hoping for a boost at (regardless of whether or not such a boost exists at a school, kids usually like to pretend it does) and they are glad it's not binding. Especially because a lot of the kids applying early to HYP are extremely competitive (they say submitting in the SCEA round if you're not really competitive can actually hurt you because that's when the super incredible kids submit) and would likely not want to confine themselves to one school option because they are likely to get into almost every school they apply to.
    It depends on your definition of middle class. The big boys cap tuition at what, 10% of income up to $180k. Thus, a middle-incomer would pay little to attend HYP. Someone with a $150k income would pay $15k, and likely receive the rest in need-based aid. A lower income family would pay even less.

    I still find this pretty arbitrary an amount. Ok, so a family who makes $180k a year pays $18k a year, but a family who makes say $200k a year is paying $40k-$50k. That huge tuition leap is definitely not made up for in the $20k extra per year that family makes, especially because half of it goes to taxes. Even more so if the family has more than one kid in school.

    Sorry, I'm not angry at the poster. Just a wee little venting rant ;P.
  • menloparkmommenloparkmom Registered User Posts: 11,905 Senior Member
    "I suspect Stanford amended its policy "
    Stanford's policy has been this way for at least 6 years.

    "And even if a student isn't accepted by the SCEA college in the early round, this tiny boost may carry over to Regular Decision when the admission committees are making those final fine-tuning decisions. The fact that an applicant has indicated (via an EA application) that this college is (or at least was) a first choice might give him or her a slight edge over someone who didn't show comparable love back in November. "

    I doubt that applying early to U's such as SHYP gives a deferred applicant a tiny boost in the regular round. These same U's have stated over and over again that they have 10x's the number of qualified applicants as they have room for.

    At Stanford in particular, a SCEA deferral is usually considered to be a "polite" way of saying "No", especially for alumni children.
  • menloparkmommenloparkmom Registered User Posts: 11,905 Senior Member
    Lets not forget that all recruited athletes also receive their formal "acceptances" during early acceptance rounds. Maybe H and P were tired of losing out on great scholar-athletes to Y and S during the last 4 years ?
«1345
This discussion has been closed.