Early Decision Harms Students of Color and Low-Income Students

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      Early Decision Harms Students of Color and Low-Income Students

      Early decision admissions policies allow high school students to apply earlier to a university, typically by November of their senior year, with the students committing to attend that university if accepted. The binding nature of early decision means that only students who can commit to a university before seeing their financial aid offer can take advantage of the policy. Most students cannot apply under such terms, especially as the cost of college is increasing almost eight times faster than wages.

      Early admissions programs provide wealthy, mostly white students an edge for acceptance to competitive schools: Not surprisingly, research shows that early decision applicants are three times more likely to be white. They also undermine incentives for universities to court students through financial aid and are associated with declining campus diversity.

      The accumulated result of these unearned privileges and early admissions policies is nothing short of a crisis of representation on America’s most prestigious college campuses. Low-income students and Black and Latinx students remain woefully underrepresented at selective institutions, while the majority of students at the nation’s top colleges are wealthy and white. Just 3 percent of students attending top U.S. colleges come from the bottom 25 percent of income earners, while nearly 3 in 4 students at prestigious universities come from the top 25 percent of income earners. Here are three ways that early decision policies particularly harm students of color and low-income students.

      Wealth disparities, however, often prevent low-income students from taking advantage of early decision programs because they are more likely to have to consider competing financial aid packages when selecting a college. Moreover, wealth is unequally divided in America along racial lines—meaning that many of the students who cannot afford to apply early decision are students of color. In 2016, the typical Black and Latinx households had approximately $17,600 and $20,700, respectively, in total wealth, compared with $171,100 for the typical white household.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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