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As Goes Harvard?

Observers of higher education often say that Harvard can get away with things that other colleges and universities cannot. Harvard can change its admissions policies or financial aid policies or hiring policies and, well, it will still be Harvard. There are no real risks when you have that kind of brand name. If anything, other institutions will just mimic it.

So a few years ago when Harvard decided to eliminate its early action admissions policy, some people may have wondered whether every respectable school would follow suit. As it turns out, a lot of other elite schools just took advantage of Harvard’s not having early admissions to steal their prize students. And now Harvard has reconsidered.

From the Crimson account:

“We looked carefully at trends in Harvard admissions these past years and saw that many highly talented students, including some of the best-prepared low-income and underrepresented minority students, were choosing programs with an early-action option, and therefore were missing out on the opportunity to consider Harvard,” Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said in a statement.

The article explains the history of the issue. Harvard originally thought that this move would get them more qualified, disadvantaged students, but it didn’t work out that way. On the one hand, I’m tempted to say this means Harvard is not invincible.

On the other hand, though, what are we really talking about here? Harvard has had another year of record applications, turning down God knows how many students with perfect SAT scores. And I’m pretty sure that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds will continue to apply to Harvard, no matter what.

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