A New York Times article reported on February 24, 2011 that Princeton and Harvard have chosen to reinstate their early admissions programs. Apparently they weren’t comfortable sticking out like sore thumbs in the Ivy League.
As reported in The Daily Princetonian, Princeton’s President Shirley Tilghman had this to say about the decision:
“We have carefully reviewed our single admission program every year, and we have been very pleased with how it has worked… But in eliminating our early program four years ago, we hoped other colleges and universities would do the same, and they haven’t.”
This decision highlights how much the Ivy Leagues are bedfellows. Harvard made its decision first, and although Tilghman claims that Princeton “might” have reinstated early admissions even if Harvard had not, Princeton’s decision was clearly heavily influenced by Harvard’s.
It is well-known that applying early decision markedly boosts applicants’ chances for admission, and that early applicant pools tend to be higher income and less diverse than the regular admission pool. The initial reason for eliminating early admissions back in 2006 was the assessment that early admissions had an overall homogenizing effect on collegiate populations. Princeton’s Tilghman remains hopeful:
“I think there’s a lot of confidence among the staff at the admission office — and I have to take that confidence pretty seriously — that we are going to be able to sustain the gains that we’ve seen,” Tilghman said. “I’m cautiously … optimistic that we will be able to sustain the gains.”
Why oh Why?
I wonder what the impetus was for Princeton and Harvard’s choice. The most obvious possibility is that they were losing top candidates to other schools with early admissions programs. Isn’t it interesting how the NYT, Princetonian, and AP articles don’t mention that?
Skeptics will likely surmise that there must be some financial gain for Princeton and Harvard in reversing their 2006 decision. Although this might be the case, there is some mitigating news. The Associated Press reports that Harvard is increasing financial aid in the face of its 4% tuition increase, and that it has pledged improvements in minority recruiting. I’m sure there will be many people keeping a close eye on the results of the return to early admissions, and I hope Tilghman’s prediction is on the money.