Thursday, September 28, 2006

UVA, Early Admissions, and the Politics of Priviledge

Another high profile University, this time the University of Virginia, has changed its policy on early admissions. See here, here, here, and here. Starting in 2008 UVA will no longer accept applications for early admission. Like Harvard and Princeton that came before, Virginia claims it wants an economically more diverse applicant pool--suggestive that the 15-year-old early admissions policy favors the affluent.

Universities make spurious arguments for keeping early admission policies. Benefits like less stress for kids and an early crack at financial aid belie existing evidence. A lack of significant empirical evidence on this matter of early admissions leads to a lot of double speak and two-sides-of-the-same-coin arguments. And the suggestion coming from UVA that low income households will see the policy change and think "wow now Billy or Janice actually has a chance to get into UVA" is ridiculous.

I would like to know how much money UVA will save by not having to promote and process early applications. As with Harvard and Princeton before it, UVA can make a decision like this because of its selectivity. The timing is perfect PR and puts UVA in the same sentence as Princeton and Harvard. So few students that apply to UVA are from economic disadvantage that a policy change will doubtfully affect the UVA applicant pool, at least not in terms of economic diversity. UVA looks good trying--or not trying very hard.


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