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.