Harvard Ends Early Admission: What Will Be the Impact on Black Higher Education?

In a stunning surprise Harvard College has decided to end its early admissions program. For the class entering in the fall of 2008, all students will be considered in the same pool. The application deadline will be January 1 and all students will be notified of Harvard’s decision in early April.

In announcing the decision, Harvard interim president Derek Bok stated that one of the major reasons the university took this step was to remove the advantage that early decision admissions offers to the more affluent applicants who are not concerned about financial aid. “Students from more sophisticated backgrounds and affluent high schools often apply early to increase their chances of admission, while minority students and students from rural areas, other countries, and high schools with fewer resources miss out,” Bok said. “Students needing financial aid are disadvantaged by binding early decision programs that prevent them from comparing aid packages.”

Harvard is the trendsetter among American institutions of higher education. If Harvard is willing to forgo the advantage of admitting as much as 50 percent of its entering class through early admissions, it will likely create a domino effect where other highly selective universities will also eliminate or curtail early admissions programs. Indeed, Princeton University announced this week, that it too would end its early admissions program.

Having all students compete in one admissions cycle when black students can “play the field” and negotiate their financial aid package with several competing institutions undoubtedly will be a positive development in African-American higher education.

For a more detailed analysis of Harvard’s decision to end early admissions, click here.