President Schapiro has all sorts of sensible things to say about early admissions.

While a primary concern about early admissions is that it can leave financial aid students at a disadvantage, Schapiro does not see this as a particular problem for the College. “At Williams we have made enormous strides in recent years in increasing the socio-economic diversity of our early applicants,” he said. “Our recent outreach efforts along with the increased generosity of our aid packages explain the willingness of students to commit to Williams before knowing the financial aid package we will offer.”

Correct. Again, middle class students still take a bit of a risk in applying early. They might have more leverage if they applied to other schools, were accepted and then could compare offers. But I suspect that this issue is a small one (in terms of number of students affected and dollars which those students pay) and I trust those applicants to weigh the trade-offs themselves.

Schapiro also addressed the fear that early admissions may create more stress for applicants or cause students to strategize too much. “While I have been very vocal in decrying the negative aspects of the current admissions frenzy, it isn’t clear to me that moving away from early admissions really improves the situation,” he said. “Some students know where they want to go by October of their senior year and forcing them to wait until April doesn’t seem to me to do any good.”

After all, he said, “If the most selective colleges and universities all gave up early admissions, I think the frenzy will not only move to the spring, but will be increased, with students applying to even larger numbers of top schools.” Schapiro also noted that this would create uncertainty for both applicants and colleges.

Exactly correct! The stress in elite high schools would increase exponentially if the entire senior class was applying and finding out at the same time. Much better to stagger the process. Indeed, given the incentives on all sides, don’t be surprised when aggressive colleges (Grinnell? Duke?) start offering applications and acceptances to students in the spring of their junior year in high school.

At a recent board of trustees meeting, Schapiro and the members discussed early admissions, and he said that it will be a topic of October’s meeting as well. “As an empirical economist, it should be no surprise that we will be taking a close look at recent data in determining how we will move forward,” he said. “Given our position as a leader in academe, I suspect we will focus heavily on the broad social issues as well as on our narrower institutional goals.”

Hmmm. I hope that this means that Williams will wait at least two years to see what the data say. I predict that the quality of Williams students will rise. But I worry whenever anyone talks about “broad social issues.” The president of Williams shoud focus on what is best for Williams. The social issues will take care of themselves.

For now, my prediction is that Williams will keep ED, at least for 2007. I also expect Amherst to follow Harvard’s lead and end ED next year. Given all his rhetoric, how could Marx not follow Harvard’s lead on this?

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