Are binding early admissions ethical?

Posted on 12/26/2012 in misc

At America's most competitive colleges, 50% or more of the freshman class slots are filled via the early admission process. Is this a good idea?

I'm leaning towards no on that question.

We went through this last year. Applying to William & Mary via early admissions would have required my son to forgo the early admission process at any other school, and we would have been forced to accept the potential offer of admission by mid-December, months before we knew what kind of financial aid offers we might get. He was also invited to interview for a full-ride offer at a private school. He ultimately was "only" offered $20K a year (about 50%) from that school, but you can see the quandary. How many families can sign off on maybe paying retail at a very good public school when there might be a full ride scholarship coming from a private school 30 days later? So my son applied regular admission at W&M where there is more competition for fewer slots, and he didn't get in to his first choice school. It all worked out and he is quite happy where he is, so this is not a complaint or a rant. However, the only kids who can really go the early admission route are kids whose parents can just write a check for college. Any family worried about paying for college is going to need to wait a bit to see what scholarship opportunities may be out there at other schools. And that just doesn't seem right.

The binding early admissions process at some top tier schools has the effect of limiting competition and making it easier for rich kids to get in. I hope that wasn't the intention, but I'd like to see the schools that use binding early admission take a close look at the actual effects of their programs.

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