College Removes Early Action Option

Sarah Manderbach '22, Contributing Writer

Prospective students will no longer have the option of applying Early Action to Dickinson College. This change comes as a response to a decline of accepted students who enroll for the following year.

In previous years, prospective Dickinson College students had three application options; Early Decision I and II with deadlines of Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 respectively, Early Action, with an application deadline of Dec. 1, and Regular Decision by the deadline of Jan. 15. Early Decision allows prospective students to know early whether a college has accepted them. That acceptance however is binding, meaning that, if the student is accepted Early Decision, they cannot decline the offer.

Early Action allowed a prospective student’s application to be reviewed earlier but does not commit the student to the college. Students who applied Early Action would be informed of their admissions status in early Feb., rather than in late March, when Regular Decision announcements are made, according to Cathy Davenport, vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions. This allowed accepted students additional time for them to make a final decision before the national deadline of May 1.

Davenport said the decision to eliminate Early Action as an application option for Dickinson College was due to a “decline” from the “last three admissions cycles of students.” However, Davenport has also stated that for the Class of 2023, the “number of Early Decision applications were lower” while the “size of Early Action applicant pool continues to increase.”

According to Davenport, there was concern that Early Action allowed for students to “ghost” the college,  “meaning the student may have applied Early Decision at another school and accepted that offer and therefore was no longer interested in enrolling at Dickinson.”

The decision to end Early Action applications is part of a trend amongst similar schools according to Davenport. She added that the college consulted members of a “Counselor Advisory Board,” consisting of school counselors from across the country in making the decision. Administrators also looked at fourteen other liberal arts colleges with whom “we have an overlap of applications.” Out of those 14 comparable schools, only Ursinus College in Collegeville Pa. accepts Early Action applications.

Luke Nicosia ’21 had chosen Early Action when applying to Dickinson. “I applied to four schools, all of which were exceptionally talented institutions. Early Action allowed for me to submit my application earlier, and perhaps in a way notify the college that Dickinson was one of my front-runners.” He said the early process allowed him to “take everything into consideration” before making his decision.

Nicosia was slightly disappointment about the removal of Early Action. “I feel that students have two choices now: sell your lives away early enough to a single institution, or have to wait in the general group.”  Nicosia said the process had a more “personal touch” and gave him the freedom to “make the difficult choice between the front-runners.”

Julia Chandler ’22, another Early Action applicant, said that removing the option negates the efforts of eager prospective students who want to become part of the community. “Early Action is an insightful way for admissions counselors to see who is really dedicated to going to Dickinson,” she said.

“Our goal is to build a strong early decision pool and our enrollment team is working hard at that,” Davenport said. “We will plan to accept more students in Early Decision so long as they are well-prepared and diverse and interesting candidates who will exemplify the mission and vision of Dickinson.”