Harvard ends early acceptance, eyes more diverse student body

Harvard University announced last Tuesday that it will be doing away with its early acceptance program for the 2007 admissions process.

Harvard University announced last Tuesday that it will be doing away with its early acceptance program for the 2007 admissions process.

"The college admissions process has become too pressured, too complex, and too vulnerable to public cynicism," said Harvard interim president Derek Bok in a statement. "We hope that doing away with early admission will improve the process and make it simpler and fairer."

The current early-action policy lets students apply for admission on November 1 and be notified of acceptance, rejection, or deference by December 15. Harvard's decision came after it received criticism that it favors wealthier students and hinders those seeking financial aid since the deadlines for aid are much later. Harvard hopes to make its student body more diverse by giving students who wouldn't normally apply for early-action admittance the chance to weigh all their financial-aid options.

Why does it matter?

The university has said it hopes other academic institutions will follow its lead and other communicators agree.

"It makes the message easier if we saw more people walking away from these early-admissions programs," said Rae Goldsmith, VP of communications and marketing for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). "They are really complicated, and schools haven't been applying the language consistently from institution to institution. It would clear up some confusion for the student recruiter."

She added, "It would also cause students to apply to more institutions, which means recruiters would have access to these students in their communications right up until admittance."

Five facts:

1 Harvard plans to use the time previously spent on early admissions to focus more on recruiting and outreach to potential students.

2 The average ratio of students to college counselors in the US is 500/1. This makes educating potential students about how to select a college a vital part of recruiting.

3 According to a National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) study, 70% of applicants are accepted to four-year colleges and universities in the US, but the average number of students who were admitted and enroll is only 45%.

4 Among colleges that offer early-action admission, 80% reported an increase in applicants from the previous year, said the NACAC.

5 According to the NACAC, 68% of institutions reported that the important qualifications for enrollment officers were backgrounds in marketing and PR.


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