College Admissions: A Case Against Early Decision Applications

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High school students from wealthy families often have a leg up when it comes to getting into college. Many times they live in better districts, can afford lots of SAT prep, essay help and other expert help for the applications. And there's also an argument that the Early Decision process unfairly favors rich kids.

Christopher Griffin
, a high school guidance counselor, has written an essay for about the college admissions industry. And he has a rather unorthodox solution to fixing its inequities: namely ending the early decision process.

We know more than a few people who got into their preferred school via early decision. But he makes a good point: for students with economy troubles, early decision isn't really an option.

For starters, if you can't afford to pay tuition outright, it's sort of hard to make a decision in the fall of your senior year, before you've applied for scholarships and loans. According to the essay:

“this industry is yet another obstacle for lower-income students, who do not attend or graduate from college at the same rate as those who are middle income and above. These students already struggle with obstacles such as lack of quality education in primary and secondary schools, demands of work and family, high tuition costs and ineffective initiatives by colleges to increase the representation of lower income students.”

Griffin offers a few recommendations, but one stood out to us more than the others. He thinks colleges should do away with early decision applications. Which he saved until the end:

“Colleges should do away with early decision, a binding agreement that a student must make before learning of a financial aid or merit award. Students who struggle financially are not in a position to make this commitment in October of their senior year. DA College Admissions Becomes An Industry The process has become so competitive that some students are hiring teams of experts, tipping the scale even further away from lower-income students.”

What do you think? Does early decision unfairly favor rich students? If so, is the balance tilted enough to do away with it entirely?

Putting your college decision on the line with an early decision application seems like a pretty clear way to prove your interest in a school. And before reading this essay, I didn't know that money was such an issue. If you can bail from an early decision application after finding out you can't afford a school, it would seem like a pretty easy solution to the problem. Rather than forcing everyone to stop using early decision altogether.