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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Every generation needs a new revolution

What's a UVA blog without a few quotes from TJ (oops...Mr. Jefferson)?
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.
I think admission is long overdue for some changes. The first two Deans with whom I worked were anti-early decision and I agreed. To be committed to one school and to have applications done by November 1st, most students will have to get applications completed while they're still adjusting to a new set of teachers and possibly a heavier workload if they're carrying a full load of AP/IB courses in the senior year. It seems like a horrible time to expect students to take some time to write brilliant essays and to expect teachers to write amazing recommendations.

When I came to UVA, I changed my stance a bit. Early decision seemed like a great way for students who were absolutely in love with the place to possibly get a positive admission decision early and not have to fill out applications to other schools. However, at every gathering of prospective students comes comments that make me revert back to my earlier opinion of the ED process.

"I heard out of state students have to apply early."
"I heard to get into Architecture, you need to apply early."
"I heard early decision applicants must have a GPA over 4.0."
"I heard that Echols/Rodman Scholars are always chosen from the early decision pool."
"I heard that Jefferson Scholars are always early decision applicants."

It really goes on and on. No matter how many times I refute the rumors, people still think they "have" to apply ED. Maybe the staff at University of Delaware had the same conflict. They've just abandoned their early program completely (The Chronicle wrote about this last week).

Is this move a sign of things to come? I'm not sure. We've talked about the future of ED here and I think it will stay in place for the time being.

I wonder if students see ED as a positive thing (get accepted early, less applications to fill out) or as placing more pressure on them at a time when there is a considerable amount already on them.