It’s back! The University of Virginia has reinstated an Early Decision policy. As our loyal readers may remember from when we penned our thoughts on the topic back in 2007 (boy have we been writing about highly selective college admissions for a long time!), the University of Virginia dropped its Early Decision program over a decade ago. And why? The school’s objective was to hope to democratize their admissions process; they felt an Early Decision policy catered too heavily to students from privileged backgrounds.
UVA Eliminated Early Decision in Democratization Push
Now, a bit more than a decade later, that push for democratization isn’t over but Early Decision is on its way back. And why? Because the school likely realized that they can attract students from low-income families, first generation college students, and underrepresented minorities to apply under a binding program. And Early Decision has its benefits — UVA will be able to fill seats with students they want to enroll and better predict their yield. As we’ve long articulated on the pages of this college admissions blog and in the press, Early Decision policies do not categorically favor the wealthy as so many folks state with unequivocal conviction. It’s spin. After all, a major argument is that students from low-income families can’t apply Early Decision because they need to weigh financial aid offers. That’s of course nonsense: a student can plug in their family’s numbers to the Net Price Calculator online and have a clear forecast of their financial aid offers.
But Now Early Decision is Back at UVA
And what does UVA have to say about their reversal? As Ruth Serven Smith writes in a piece for Daily Progress entitled “Early decision returns to UVa’s admissions process,” “On Thursday, [UVA] announced the return of early decision, a binding option that requires students to accept an offer — a situation more likely to appeal to wealthy and well-connected students who don’t need to wait for financial aid offers. Dean of Admissions Greg Roberts said the change came after demand from high school students, adding that the option should help to more quickly determine class size. ‘As we started thinking about it and having these conversations, I started reaching out to high school counselors across the state — I don’t know what I was expecting, but they were pretty much unanimously in support,’ Roberts said. ‘By offering early decision, we can now offer plans for each type of student.'”
Under its new admissions policy, UVA applicants going forward can apply via Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Decision. Under the Early Action or Regular Decision policies, students of course are not bound to attend if admitted whereas if they apply via Early Decision, they are bound to matriculate.