Stanford, Yale change admissions

by Zachary Goldstein | 11/11/02 6:00am

Although both Yale and Stanford Universities announced last week that they would be scrapping their current binding early-decision programs, Dartmouth does not foresee any changes to its admissions policies in the near future, according to Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenberg.

Taking effect with next year's application process for the Class of 2008, Yale and Stanford will institute an early-action program. Early action does not require students who are accepted early to matriculate, while early decision does.

Both schools said that concerns about the stress placed on students by the college application process were the primary factor leading to the change.

"Our main consideration was really a response to concerns of applicants, parents and college counselors about the pressure exerted on the students having to commit to a binding program so early in their senior year," said Marcela Muniz, associate dean of undergraduate admission at Stanford.

Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw concurred, noting that the "binding commitment increases angst in students." Another concern for Shaw was the disparity between the diversity of the regular applicant pool and that of the early-decision pool.

"The binding early-decision pool has simply not been as diverse as our regular pool. By opening it up, hopefully we'll attract a newly diverse applicant pool," Shaw said.

When the schools change to early action next year, both will accompany the change with another addition to their early admissions policies. Beginning next year, students who apply through early action to Yale will be expected not to apply early to any other schools. The same policy will be in place at Stanford.

According to Muniz, the reason for the change is that Stanford still wants students who decide to apply early to "identify Stanford as their clear first choice." Shaw cited similar concerns at Yale.

This new policy would, however, place both Stanford and Yale in direct conflict with the current guidelines set forth by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which mandates that schools should not place restrictions on the number of early applications an applicant can file.

For this application year, both Brown and Princeton Universities are in violation of the NACAC guideline, and if the guideline remains, Stanford and Yale would join those two schools. All schools that remain in violation of the NACAC policy risk expulsion from the national association.

"We are currently in sync with the NACAC policy," Shaw said. "But that doesn't mean we agree with it."

Despite the changes at Stan-ford and Yale, no changes are being planned or considered for Dartmouth's admissions policies, Furstenberg said.

Dartmouth offers applicants the option of applying early decision and does not restrict high school seniors' ability to apply early action elsewhere, in accordance with NACAC guidelines.

"A lot of students have Dartmouth as a clear first choice," Furstenberg said. "They've thought through it carefully, and it's a rational, responsible decision which they are prepared to make."

Contrary to Shaw and Muniz, Furstenberg said he believes that the current system is easier on applicants.

"Early decision is an admission plan for those students who want to get the process over with sooner," Furstenberg said. "In that respect, we feel early decision actually helps relieve pressure on students."

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