Will Dropping Early Admissions Result in Fewer Black Students at Harvard and Princeton?

A year ago Princeton University and Harvard University both ended their early admissions programs. It was expected that many other high-ranking colleges and universities would follow suit. But this did not come to pass.

Now it appears that the disappearance of early admissions programs at Harvard and Princeton has produced a surge of early admission applications at many other top-ranked universities. Yale reported a 36 percent increase in early applicants this year. The University of Chicago had a 42 percent increase in early admission applications. At Georgetown University, early applicants were up by 30 percent. Dartmouth and Brown also showed significant increases in early admission applicants.

In the past, many black students were reluctant to apply to colleges and universities with binding early admission programs. This was the case because, if accepted, the student was obligated to enroll at that particular educational institution. This meant that black students admitted under binding early admission could not bargain with different universities over the financial aid award that they were to receive. But over the past decade blacks have been increasingly applying early because it was generally perceived that early applicants have a better chance of being accepted.

Now Harvard and Princeton may have put themselves at a severe disadvantage in attracting the most academically gifted black students. Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, and most other high-ranking universities are in a position to use the early admission process to accept large numbers of black students and to assure themselves of an academically strong and diverse entering class.

Many high school seniors, black and white, want to get the college selection process over with as quickly as possible. As a result, many academically strong black students may apply early admission to a particular school and many of them will be accepted. This may dramatically decrease the pool of academically qualified black students available during the regular admissions process for Harvard and Princeton.