Getting rid of early admissions is a boon to parents and students

Regarding your Sept. 14 editorial, "Huzzah for Harvard": As the father of a college freshman with vivid memory of the frenzy associated with early decisions last October, I applaud Harvard's move to eliminate early decision in favor of a more sensible admissions process.

Catering to a consumer society that overemphasizes ranking, many colleges compete to play the early decision game in order to increase their selectivity and yield – both important indicators in the excessively consulted U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings.

As your editorial noted, highly motivated students can especially feel the pressure to apply before they have all the information (including weighing all financial offers) needed for an informed decision.

Parents must also complete FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and other financial-aid forms before they have W2 forms for their tax returns. Students admitted under early decision are also more likely to have preconceived ideas about what their schools should be like, reinforcing stereotypes and potentially hampering efforts to alter campus culture.
Vincent Wei-Cheng Wang
Richmond, Va.

The Sept. 14 article, "Is early admission unfair?" points out the general advantage to early decision in raising the average chance of admission. But in individual cases, applying early might actually lower the chances of admission and is therefore "unfair" in another way that many do not realize.

I learned of this rather counterintuitive possibility when I worked for three years as the district enrollment director in Tampa Bay, Fla., for Dartmouth College. A visiting admissions officer told me that applicants deferred from early decision who are then considered for regular admissions can look recycled, having been thrown back into the applicant pool. When they reappear, the admissions people have seen these applicants before and may be less likely to admit them.

The conclusion to be drawn was, "Don't apply early unless you are nearly certain of admission. Otherwise, wait."
Thomas P. Boyer
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Let people choose where their taxes go

This is in response to the Sept. 14 article, "Congress lifts blinds on its spending": about the wonderful bill passed by Congress allowing tax payers to essentially have access to the government's receipt. I have been thinking about this for some time and would like to take it one step further.

I suggest a tax reform or program that will allow taxpayers to determine which sectors they would like a percentage of their taxes to go to. This program, which would be available to all, but not required, would allow the distribution of perhaps 60 percent of one's taxes to be determined by the taxpayer, while the remaining 40 percent would be controlled by the government.

The 60 percent could be divided among a predetermined division of common sectors found in our society. Examples can be as broad as education, defense, roads and civil infastructure, R&D, etc.

The idea behind this is to promote democracy by giving the spending power back to the people. Encourage people to become aware of our spending as a nation, and allow what's important to surface through that spending. There is a possibility of lots of jobs coming out of this, too. If we are to be a democracy, then let the people be in charge.
Jason Campbell
Carpinteria, Calif.

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