Jul 17, 2010

Princeton Will Not be Following U.Va. in Switch to Early Action

Princeton will not be following U.Va.’s lead by making available a nonbinding early action application alternative any time in the foreseeable future. In comments before an audience of college counselors traveling with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey (AICUNJ), associate dean of admission Robyn Kent emphatically restated Princeton’s commitment to a “single review” of all applications.

“It works for us,” said Ms. Kent. “President Tilghman is very committed to single review, and we have no plans to change our current application procedures.”

Most colleges offer students the opportunity to submit applications for some kind of early admission notification. The more flexible program is early action (EA), which is a nonbinding decision. Early decision (ED) is binding and commits the student to attend the institution to which he or she applied.

In the fall of 2006, UVa announced plans to eliminate the University’s long-standing ED program in an effort “to remove an identified barrier to qualified low-income students and their families.” The move followed similar announcements by Harvard and Princeton and was considered “key” to the success of AccessUVa, an innovative financial aid program designed to make UVa more accessible to low-income applicants.

The University of Virginia surprised Princeton officials and others by recently submitting a proposal to the UVa Board of Visitors that would appear to go back on the policy, which was implemented in the fall of 2007. Arguing that nonbinding early action would give students “more flexibility and freedom,” UVa dean of admission Greg Roberts reported that he and his staff have done a “great deal of research” on the issue and assured the Board that he would not be making the new proposal if it would hurt low-income students’ applications.

Since joining with Harvard and Princeton in the elimination of all early admission programs, UVa has traveled with both colleges in an "accessibility" recruitment tour which typically takes place later in the application cycle. This year, UVa proposes to use the fall months to communicate the new EA plan to sophomores and juniors who will be among the first applicants affected by the change, as it would go into effect fall of 2011.

For now, Princeton admissions officials report plans to go forward with the tour and UVa will be included in the previously-scheduled program of visits. “It’s been a great experience,” explained Janet Rapelye, Princeton’s dean of admission. “We plan to continue to travel together for this year at least.”

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