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Spinning Harvard's Early Decision Decision

The Times is running a follow-up piece to yesterday's decision by Harvard to get rid of its non-binding early admission programs. It's not that hard-hitting of a piece, and the least they could do is mention that some colleges are much more dependent on early admit programs than others (cough, Princeton, cough UPenn), but it's interesting because most of the college officials interviewed come across like a deer-in-headlights, not knowing how to react to the Harvard decision.

However, in it, they interview Cornell provost Biddy Martin (the true person in power at Cornell, and by the way, who calls her Carolyn?):

At Cornell, Carolyn Martin, the provost, said officials there had been discussing for quite a while their concerns that early admissions might deter some low-income students from applying and pressure other students to commit too quickly.

"I don't know where we will end up," Dr. Martin said. "It's been fairly widely recognized, certainly at Cornell, that it does put students in a disadvantaged position."

This of course, the commonly accepted view by students, colleges, and academics alike, but then we have officials from places like Dartmouth trying to spin things the other way:
“For the moment, our plan would be to stick with early admissions but keep a close eye on how this might affect the admissions market,” said Karl M. Furstenberg, dean of admissions at Dartmouth. “A lot of places are going to think about what this means for their own programs.”

Mr. Furstenberg was among the admissions officials who said that through substantial recruiting and outreach, their colleges had been able to attract low-income and minority students to apply through early admissions. “I’m not as convinced that early admissions programs are as big a barrier to kids as Harvard thinks,” he said.

But, of course, the numbers speak for themselves. If Cornell thinks it is a problem, and Dartmouth says it doesn't, and if Cornell has a lot more low-income students than Dartmouth, than it suggests that somebody is being misleading, and I don't think it is Biddy.

Also, major props go out to the Cornell Daily Sun for not covering what may turn out to be the most important story in higher education this year, even when it seems that every other college newspaper did.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on September 13, 2006 (#)

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