Yale Will No Longer Require Early Applicants to Commit to Attend

Yale has announced that effective next year for the Class of 2008, it will no longer require college admissions applicants who are accepted early to commit to attend Yale at the time that they apply.

In recent years, Yale College has admitted part of its freshmen class through an early decision program, in which students apply and receive an early review of their application with the understanding that they are bound to attend the school if admitted.

Early decision, widely used at selective colleges and universities, has caused a rush toward early college application in the United States. Yale President Richard C. Levin spurred a nationwide debate on the merits of early decision when he spoke about the program’s negative side effects in December 2001.

Levin noted that while the program works well for those students who know where they want to go to college, it has pushed many students to choose a favored college too early, before they had the chance to study other options and reflect on their choice. He also noted that it has led students to make their college choice more on strategic grounds and less on the basis of the kind of education a school offers. In addition, many students in need of financial aid have been uncomfortable with the early decision route because it does not allow them to see aid packages from different schools.

“Early decision programs help colleges more than applicants,” Levin said. “It is our hope to take pressure off students in the early cycle and restore a measure of reasoned choice to college admissions. Our new early action program will allow students who are very confident of their preference to receive early word from Yale while still allowing ample time for further investigation and the thoughtful weighing of options.”

Under Yale’s new early action plan, students can seek an admissions decision from Yale only, in the early cycle, but are free to apply elsewhere during the regular application cycle before reaching a final decision. The new system was reviewed and approved by a committee of faculty and administrators responsible for admissions and financial aid policy, and the change was also recommended by the undergraduate student government, the Yale College Council.

In responding to today’s announcement Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead commented, “We adopted early decision for the sake of the rare student who knows exactly where he or she wants to go by mid-fall of the senior year of high school. We never meant the early cycle to become the normal cycle. Today’s announcement will allow applicants the freedom to give this decision the time and thought it deserves.”

Last year, nearly 15,500 students applied for the 1,300 places in Yale College.

Under a need blind admissions policy Yale College admits students without regard to their ability to pay and then meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted students. In 2002-2003 students qualifying for grant aid received an average grant of more than $21,000 for each year in college, no portion of which must be repaid. In the current year Yale is spending $39.7 million on undergraduate financial aid.

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Media Contact

Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345