High school seniors who apply to college early–through “Early Decision” or “Early Action” programs with fall deadlines–are more likely to receive admission letters than those who apply using the regular deadlines and processes at more than 80 percent of the collegesthat report such statistics, according to U.S News & World Report. And the admissions advantage is big, according to the publication’s analysis of the 233 colleges that report separate rates for their early admission programs. In 2009, the last year for which complete data is available, the typical college’s early acceptance rate was 15 percentage points higher than its rate for those who sent their applications in by the standard deadlines, which are usually in December or January. In some cases, however, such as the University of Arkansas and SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, more than 80 percent of early applicants gained admission, compared to less than a third of the regular applicants. Of course, many colleges insist that the early admission rates only appear higher because better students apply early, and that those students would win admissions if they applied in the regular pool. But some colleges say they do give preferences to early applicants. And the disparities in admissions rates may be key reasons that Dartmouth College, Duke University, MIT, and many other colleges reported record numbers of early applications this year. The differences in the admission rates will also likely continue to fuel a debate over whether early admissions programs are good for students. In 2006, Harvard University stopped its early admissions program after a 2003 book by some of its faculty showed that wealthy and privileged students benefited the most from early admissions programs. A research team led by Christopher Avery, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, found that, for example, students who applied early got less financial aid…

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About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.


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