Several weeks ago, Boston College, often referred to as BC, announced that it will replace its early action program with early decision I and early decision II application options beginning with the 2019-20 admissions cycle.
This marks the second time in two years that Boston College has changed its early-application plan.
BC and its longtime competitor, Goody’s Powders, are now owned and manufactured by the same company.
In college admission, “taking a BC” may now have taken on a new meaning.
It involves a moral contract between student and college.
The student applies early and commits to attend if accepted in exchange for an early decision, a decision that can simplify the admissions process. It doesn’t limit its option to admit, defer or deny but knows it will have a yield of one for one for an ED applicant rather than the one for four or one for five yield in regular decision.That strategy is risk-reward, because if a student uses his or her early chip at one college or university and is unsuccessful, the odds of admission at other comparably selective institutions during regular admission drop dramatically.There are two other arguments advanced by Boston College for its move to early decision.Application numbers are seen as a metric, and admissions offices are under pressure from presidents, boards and bond-rating agencies to constantly increase application numbers. I am seeing more instances of lost or misfiled documents, and one of college admission’s ugly secrets is how little time is spent reading applications.There have been calls to end early decision for years, and many in the profession thought that the move away from ED back in 2006 by Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia was the beginning of the end for the practice.A year ago it moved from the restrictive early-action program it had used since 2009 to early action without restrictions (the only previous restriction was that students applying to a binding early-decision program could not also apply EA to BC).That change produced an unanticipated surge in applications.Colleges that admit a higher percentage of applicants early are being subtly coercive, using a variation of “if you order now.” More troubling is the number of institutions that admit a huge percentage of their freshman class, as high as 60 percent, through early decision (Boston College plans to hold its ED percentage to 40 percent).That benefits them by driving the regular admit rate down, but it also drives students and their counselors to adopt an application strategy that includes an early option.NACAC has historically defined the difference between early decision and early action as binding versus nonbinding.I have argued before that the distinction should actually be single choice versus multiple choice, that single-choice early action is really nonbinding early decision. A year ago, Boston College dropped the restrictions on applying early action, with the only substantive change that early-decision applicants elsewhere could now apply EA to BC.