Pomona Dean Trashes Single Choice Early Action

<p>From the article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (see the thread on the new 2005 annual edition). (Note this is SCEA, not ED, that he is talking about):</p>

The real problem with any early-action program arises from its unintended consequences. With no malice aforethought, and while operating within their "rights," students admitted through early action often behave like the person who enters a movie theater for a sold-out hit and throws coats, hats, or popcorn boxes across several seats to "save" them. (Remember that the average applicant to highly selective colleges submits nine or 10 applications.) That person sits in what he first thinks is the best seat but keeps his options open. After the previews (think April, regular decision), he releases the empty seats. Later, people scramble to fill up the space, having missed out on some of the show (think waiting list). </p>

<p>If you're concerned with the larger picture, the results are troubling. In our competitive world, what one student does affects another. Students may be put on the waiting list or, worse, rejected by their first choice because of "ghost" applicants who are keeping their applications active. Colleges may have a hard time estimating who is likely to enroll. Perhaps applicants necessarily focus only on themselves, but colleges should consider how their actions impinge on students and their own competitors.


He says students do this especially if they are "trophy-hunting" (collecting admissions, even while fully intending to go to the SCEA school). He also says that the Ivies who switched to single choice early action used it as a compromise between those who wanted to do away with all early programs and those who liked them, but that it hasn't worked as intended. Other parts of the article concentrate on financial aid, etc. Some people thought that if the Ivies went to SCEA, other select schools would follow. Well, apparently not Pomona!</p>

<p>I am glad that some one has finally raised this point. For every person that gets in ED and is happy with the choice, there is an awful lot of throphy hunting /collecting going on (not only with the Ivies, but with other great programs as well ex: Stanford, Georgetown, Tulane, UMich Honors). Throphy hunting doesn't exactly show our kids in their best light and really does nothing to help a college process that times seems tenuous at best and sometimes resorting to some sense of entitlement (bashing of AA, Athletes, URM's, Asians, legacies, Rich kids, poor kids, you name it).</p>

<p>Maybe he has statistics to back him up on the trophy hunting issue?</p>

<p>I'm sure that some students apply and are admitted EA or SCEA, and then apply to some more schools for the sake of collecting admissions. Do we actually know whether they are trophy hunting or trying to compare financial aid packages? And how are they different from students who apply RD to 20 colleges? Are these kids not holding up "seats" that could be filled by applicants on the waitlist?</p>

<p>Good point about the kid who applies to 20 RD schools. I looked back at the article and the dean does not address it, but it's the same thing.</p>

<p>I wonder if EA went back to ED would the numbers be the same? At least with RD,people are casting everything to the wind at the same time and everything is pretty much up for grabs, whereas there many students who already have an EA in hand, looking for something better or bragging rights.</p>

<p>SCEA versus 20 RD?</p>

<p>Isn't there a difference between holding a seat from December to May and holding a seat for a few weeks in April? A student who applied to twenty RD schools might receive a number of offers of admission, but he did not indicate a clear preference and did not benefit from more generous admission's standards.</p>

<p>Well, I may be cynical, but it is not good for Pomona, because they would lose a bedrock of paying or "no bargaining" customers! The LACs are afraid of any form of EA, because they, unfortunately in my opinion, would lose much of the predictability in their admissions.
But if all 25 or 50 selective schools went to SCEA at one time, and enforced the single part, wouldn't that eliminate some of the scrambling? I don't think any system is going to completely stop the "trophy hunters", because they are not responding to any external factors, except their own personal need for praise, and Marite's right, who could possibly tease out need for FA from trophy hunting.</p>

<p>I think EA and ED should be done completely away with, of course this wouldn't be good for the college, but I just don't see their benefits. EA often ends in trophy-hunting, much of the time, no but a lot of times yes. I don't like that ED means that if you can't afford it, you don't get that advantage.</p>

<p>Of course the Pomona dean would rather have ED instead of SCEA. He gets to lock up the football players, the musicians, the other kids he needs without worry they will go someplace else.
It makes his job simpler and is more cost effective.</p>

<p>This doesn't mean ED is better for the students. </p>

<p>Pomona is a great school that can fill its class with no early program.</p>

<p>I agree, Sybbie. While 20 RD applications are certainly excessive, I think there’s a big difference between casting a ridiculously wide RD net and receiving an EA acceptance to the school you know you’ll attend, then sitting back and collecting RD acceptances for sport.</p>

<p>I think EA is GREAT for one of the reasons Pomona likely doesn't like it - it allows lower income students to compare aid offers. Since they vary quite widely, even among need-blind schools (I'm speaking from personal experiences), EA provides low-income students the luxury formerly only truly available to higher income ones.</p>

<p>If Pomona wants to attract high performing low-income students who would really prefer to attend, all it has to do is change ED for EA. Until then, it is hard (for me) to take them seriously.</p>

<p>Also, I take a little umbrage at the assumption that SCEA acceptees that go on and send in other apps are trophy hunters. I know someone who will probably qualify for little to no FA, was accepted at a highly competitive SCEA school, and still sent in other applications - this person is simply a 17 year old who has been too busy/not consumed by college yet, to thoroughly check out all the choices, in other words a very typical 17 year old, but with high grades and scores. This person is also being changed by the senior year, as has been discussed before - isn't getting a chance to grow, part of the argument behind SCEA?</p>

<p>I love ED because my kids' schools were VERY well researched (they spent the night several times, went to classes, practiced with the teams - though they were not recruited but walk-ons - met professors in their areas, etc) and so they knew exactly where they wanted to go. Then we were done by December and had a very, very happy, stress-free, and relaxed senior year, in both cases - not to mention what we saved in application fees!</p>

<p>I wish schools would just let you apply and then notify you as soon as they made a decision. Look at the Dartmouth thread on this board - lots of kids got what were NOT "likely letters" but "You-WILL get-the-acceptance-offer letters," on Feb. 15. Saves them 6 weeks of stress. Maybe everyone should have rolling admissions :)</p>

<p>EDIT: Just reminding people that I (the OP) just posted the opinion; I didn't say it was mine!</p>

<p>It's the financial aspect I don't like nedad. I think it's great when someone knows exactly where they want to go, but I don't like that people who can't pay for it without seeing the financial aid offer first don't get that advantage. I may know exactly where I want to go, but my parents can't afford 40,000 without seeing some money on the school's side.</p>

<p>This reminds me of Evil Robot who got in SCEA at Yale last year, despite the Great Yale Massacre. He had a clear first choice-Yale. But he also had financial constraints. He applied to other schools RD besides Yale. Eventually, financial considerations led him to opt for Vandy where, he reported, he is very happy. But it took him a long time and a lot of discussion on these boards for him to let go of the Yale dream. Remember how many parents urged him to go for his dream school and predicting he would regret turning down an Ivy? Trophy-hunting? Who?.</p>

<p>A lot of opinion pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education show the innumeracy prevalent in American academia. Someone really needs to dig deeply into a detailed data set about actual applicants and their real-world behavior before simply spewing opinions on an issue like this. Argument by analogy is what everyone does in personal conversation, but if I want to be convinced that a college is a top-quality choice for my child (and I have been getting mail from THAT college since my child was five years old, because of a college fair visit I made for a writing project I was doing at the time), I would expect the college's leader to be able to make a reasoned, evidenced, scholarly argument.</p>

<p>I see your point, Celebrian, but I think as long as the college limits the number they take early, then it's fair. If they filled their entire class with early applicants, it would not be fair (although of course a private college can do pretty much whatever it wants).</p>

<p>Here's a bad analogy (all analogies are bad in some way): a few years ago the gifted program at our school had a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime trip planned. Two parents objected because of the cost, so the trip was cancelled. The teacher agreed to take the students at the beginning of the summer, as a non-school activity, but the district AND THE PARENTS OF THE TWO put the screws to her as still "unfair" to the two who couldn't or wouldn't pay (even with aid from the other parents). It was like the Aesop's fable of the dog in the manger (who wouldn't allow the cow to eat the hay): "If I (or my kid) can't have it, I don't want anyone else to have it either." There were 40 kids who were broken hearted, who had been looking forward to this special trip/learning expedition for years, and the school allowed two people to veto it for everyone else. I would not like to see your argument destroy ED for everyone else (though again - the # should be limited).</p>

<p>There are many, many, MANY things in life that some people cannot afford. I give a ton of money to my alma mater for scholarships so that kids who could not otherwise go, can. No one is saying that the kids cannot apply at all, only that they cannot apply early because they want to compare aid packages.</p>

<p>The analogy doesn't hold. If there isn't ED, the kids can still apply later and be accepted.</p>

<p>Do you mean my analogy, or the Dean's?</p>

<p>If mine, there are many aspects of any situation you can analogize: I was ONLY referring to the dog-in-the-manger aspect regarding what might follow Celebrian's point - that lack of money for some people should be allowed to totally trump choice for others.</p>

<p>Your analogy. The trip became no trip. No ED doesn't mean you don't get to apply. It just means you have to wait a little bit.
I disagree with the dean from Pomona also, but I already mentioned that.</p>