Who Goes Early?: A Multi-Level Analysis of Enrolling via Early Action and Early Decision Admissions
by Julie J. Park & M. Kevin Eagan - 2011
Background/Context: Several studies have identified that applicants who apply to college via early admissions programs tend to be White and affluent. Because researchers have also identified benefits with applying early, akin to a 100 point boost on the SAT, such programs raise questions around equity in the college admissions process.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study/Research Design: We used cross-classified hierarchical generalized linear modeling to examine predictors of enrolling due to being admitted through an early decision or early action program in a national dataset of 88,086 students. Although research has investigated the types of institutions that tend to offer early action and early decision programs, the types of students who apply to these programs, and the types of high schools that they come from, no prior study has examined these three contexts simultaneously.
Findings/Results: When controlling for high school, individual, and institutional characteristics, receiving private college counseling was the strongest predictor of enrolling due to early admissions. We suggest that elevated levels of cultural capital help explain why White and affluent students are more likely to enroll via early admissions.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Our findings indicate that early admissions programs, and in particular, early decision, perpetuate social privilege and stratification. At a minimum, institutions need to look inward and ask serious questions about the patterns of who applies and is accepted via early policies, and the implications of offering advantages to students who generally already are advantaged in the admissions process.
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