College Admissions Foster Competition, Inequality

Early decision, early action institutionalize universities’ capital wealth

Sara Richardson, Managing Editor

An increasing number of students, especially seniors, are exhausted, stressed, panicked, and worried about their futures. No, I’m not talking about the upcoming election and the future of this country. I am discussing the dreaded college admissions process.

Applying to college should be about finding the ‘right’ school. At least, that is what I thought. As college admissions become more competitive, more students apply to colleges as early decision or early Action as the acceptance rates are much higher. However, early decision creates many issues as it is unfair for those who need financial aid, supports unhealthy competition between peers, and creates a game of prob- ability rather than focusing on finding the right college.

Early decision is a binding agreement, which means if one is accepted to the college, they are required to attend. If one needs financial aid, they could be trapped in a commitment without having enough money to afford a particular school. So one might say, don’t apply early decision. Yet most highly competitive and elite colleges are taking an upward of 50% of their incoming class with this application. Early decision creates an undue advantage for students who can pay full college tuition.

Early decision is no longer about finding the right school but a game of figuring out where one can apply it, which is still very difficult as many colleges are titled “highly-competitive.” These processes change the entire education system into a business: colleges try to maximize their profits and capital gain by decreasing their admission rates. These processes have created anxiety and disappointment-fueled environments. Students try to figure out how many of their peers are applying early to a particular school or trying to guess the best college they can get into. Applying to college should be about receiving an education and becoming prepared for the future, but now, in short, it is a competitive, toxic mess.

No matter how much I talk or write about the college process’ unfairness and issues, it is probably not going to change anytime soon. Even if it is difficult, the best thing that we students can do is continue trying our best and not getting too wrapped up in the process.
Georgia Pettygrove ‘21: “Having to worry about when you’re submitting an application shouldn’t affect whether or not you get in, cause people say you’re more likely to get in if you ED. But maybe there is some circumstance that doesn’t allow you to have an application ready by that time. Maybe, the whole playing field would be fairer if everyone submitted at the same time.” (Sara Richardson)
Brooke Lee ‘21: “I like the idea of early decision. I just think that the complete binding is a little intimidating.” (Sara Richardson)