Top of the Class, Bottom of the List
Earlier this week, Harvard University announced that it was deep-sixing it’s early admissions program. Interim President Derek Bok states “We hope that doing away with early admission will improve the process and make it simpler and fairer.” He goes on to say that the current system for early admissions “advantages the advantage“. It’s been a long-known fact that students from more well-to-do families and affluent high schools tend to apply for early admission to increase their chances of acceptance. Lower income students, people from rural areas and high schools with fewer resources tend to get left behind in the admissions process with a majority of slots going to those who sought early admissions.
This unprecedented move by Harvard seeks to put all applicants on a level playing field. A reporter for ABC News pointed out that a majority of students seeking early admission come from alumni and/or donors to the university. In fact, a majority of Ivy League students come from alumni and/or donor families. It is an obvious point that most of these families are extremely well-to-do and have the money to better prepare their student than an average American family with children in public schools.
The administration at Harvard is hoping that this move will put pressure on other large universities to do the same thing, further leveling the playing field. Says one college president, “Harvard’s move is ‘interesting’. I’d like to see how this turns out before implementing the same measures in this school”.
While Harvard is recognized worldwide as a leader in education, many US schools are balking at the notion of doing away with their early admissions programs. Many schools rely on early admissions to lock down students willing to pay full tuition (many of them out of state students paying the extra out-of-state fees).
It will be interesting to see how this move by Harvard trickles down through the ranks of universities. I’ve always been for putting everyone on an equal playing field and letting everyone have a fair shot.