Last week, two of our nations’ top schools, Harvard and Princeton, announced that they would restore early admissions policies for the class of 2016. Specifically, both schools are going to offer single choice early action (SCEA) to applicants. SCEA is quite a bit different than a regular early action policy, but what does it entail specifically? And more importantly. how do these policies affect you as an applicant?
By definition, single choice early action is:
an admissions policy that allows applicants to apply early to a college. However, they are not allowed to apply anywhere else until they receive their SCEA decision (generally in December).
So on the surface, these decisions provide applicants, who know that Harvard or Princeton is their first choice, a great opportunity. However, let’s take a look at what each school is saying about their decision to restore early admissions:
Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman stated that the single choice early action policy would help students for who Princeton is their first choice and strengthen/diversify their applicant pool. Harvard Dean Michael D. Smith cited similar reasons and also stated that Harvard was losing out on applicants to peer schools that had early admissions policies.
As with any major decision, the shift to single choice early action by Harvard and Princeton is not without critics. Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, wrote that:
[the] competition [at Harvard and Princeton] for highly qualified advantaged students appears to have trumped the concern about missing out on the highly qualified but disadvantaged ones.
His article brings up some very interesting points, and if you are interested in higher education policy, it is worth reading.
While the policy is certainly interesting, the most important question for prospective college students is: how does it affect me?
The good news for you is that this policy gives you extra options. If you want to apply to Harvard or Princeton (or the University of Virginia who made this decision in November), you can potentially get your acceptance letter and financial aid package by mid-December. Before this decision, there was no option for students for who Harvard or Princeton was their first choice.
Under the SCEA policy, you are able to send out other applications after your receive your decision and then weigh your decisions come the spring.
Even if you are in need of financial aid, this can be a great option, because Harvard and Princeton have arguably the best financial aid in the world.
For high school juniors who this policy will apply to, this gives you another reason to consider U.V.A., Princeton, and Harvard. There are some great social media sites out there that can help you to see if there is a fit with any of these schools.Photo by *MarS