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What if the Contract Colleges Dropped ED?

While the upper floors of Day Hall are ďvery seriously consideringĒ doing away with Cornellís early decision policy, I think I may have a possible solution to Cornellís early decision dilemma. Not that I actually have any sway with the people who set policies in the Cornell administration, but I donít see any harm in thinking out loudÖ

Some have claimed that ending early decision would be a disaster for Cornell, as top students would apply early elsewhere (UPenn, Dartmouth) to enjoy the leg up that applying early grants them. Others argue that Cornell needs to abandon its early decision policy now if it wants to stay true to the founding principles of the University. And for what it is worth, I have made the argument that early decision policies may be increasingly irrelevant for schools trying to attract the top applicants if the top applicants increasingly hold out to for possible admission to the top schools.

I'm still in favor of Cornell completely getting rid of ED. I don't think it would hurt the University nearly as much as some of its proponents claim. But why donít we meet half-way and allow individual Cornell colleges to decide for themselves whether or not they will allow early decision admissions? I could definitely see the contract colleges hopping on this plan.

Presumably, those Cornell colleges with high yield rates would be less adverse to getting rid of ED than some of the others. As an added bonus, this could also play into Cornellís recent announcement that it will allow students to be considered for admission at two undergraduate colleges. Get denied to Engineering early decision? Well, youíll still be up for consideration for the AEM program through the Ag School.

N.B. When UVa announced their decision yesterday, they released some stark numbers that puts to rest the issue of whether or not a binding early decision programs favors students from more affluent backgrounds:

Early decision had become inconsistent with the goals of AccessUVA, a financial aid program designed to lower college costs for the lowest-income students who apply to the universityÖ of the more than 170 students who qualified for the programís maximum financial aid package last year, only one applied under the early decision plan. Fewer than 20 of the 947 students accepted under the early decision plan last December applied for financial aid.

And people should realize that UVa is most definitely a competitor school to Cornell. Among common admits to both schools, roughly half end up going to Cornell. Meanwhile, it's Jefferson Scholars program is one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in the country.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on September 27, 2006 (#)

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