There are some folks who argue that Early Decision and Early Action policies at highly selective colleges cater to the wealthy, to the disadvantage of middle and lower income college applicants. But these folks — as we’ve been saying for years — are wrong to assert such. Do wealthier applicants tend to apply in the Early Decision / Early Action round as compared to the Regular Decision round? You bet. But not for the right reasons.
As the University of Pennsylvania’s always candid Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said in reference to the Early Decision round at Penn in a piece in “The Washington Post,” “‘This pool is becoming broader and deeper and more diverse than it’s ever been. It’s time to start telling that story,’ Furda said. ‘I don’t want lower-income families to be told, ‘Don’t apply early decision because you’re going to need to compare financial-aid packages.” These days, nearly as many early-decision freshmen receive need-based grants from Penn as their peers admitted in the regular cycle, he said.” We echo the sentiments expressed by Eric Furda.
The fact is that most applicants choose not to apply Early Decision because they’re not ready to make a commitment. Nick Anderson, in his piece in “The Washington Post” referred to those who are willing to make this commitment as “the Pledgers” whereas those who choose to apply Regular Decision instead are “the Shoppers.” We don’t disagree with these labels but we do take issue with Anderson referring to the Pledgers as “a privileged subset.” Students need to commit to one college in the end anyway. Why should the students who have the chutzpah to commit to a school Early — when the odds are so much more in their favor (just look at UPenn’s admissions statistics over the years) — be disparaged? Why should the students who don’t wish to apply to 20 schools and only wish to apply to one school and be done with it be labeled “a privileged subset”? We’ve got a more appropriate label for “the Pledgers” — savvy!