University will no longer offer early application period


By Eric Fries

Beginning this fall, applicants to the University will not have the option to apply early. The University will have a single decision period and all applicants will be notified on Feb. 13 if they have been admitted or denied.

Applications will be due Dec. 1 for all prospective students. However, priority consideration for honors programs will be given to students who submit their application by Nov. 1, the former early application deadline.

The changes will not apply to transfer or graduate applications; only freshman applications will be affected.

Nancy Walsh, director of admissions operations, said the changes were made in response to rising numbers of early applicants. 

“In December, it was getting harder and harder to make a true final decision on those students,” she said. 

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    As a result, more students were being deferred. With the new policy in place, all applicants will be considered together, which will remove the need for deferrals. 

    Walsh said she thought the University was not sending the best message to students who were deferred. Since the number of early applicants was rising, she said, the University was forced to defer qualified students. 

    “It seems to us that it would be more fair that we’re telling everybody, ‘You’re not going to hear until February,’?” Walsh said.

    Lisa R. Micele, director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School, said it is much better for students to hear back in February with the rest of the applicants, rather than be deferred in December and have to wait until the February date.

    “The deferral was confusing and often turned students off as they were feeling unwanted or confused as to what the deferral meant. Students often believe that deferrals are glorified denials,” Micele said in an email.

    However, some students feel the early application period was a useful way to let applicants get a head start on the process. Elliot Lee, freshman in LAS, said he thought the early application period was beneficial in separating the students who really want to attend the University from those who think of it as a safety school. 

    “I think the early admission process was a good way to find out who really cared,” he said.

    Micele added that the later acceptance date could have negative effects for students who would have been accepted early. Since the later date would delay their possible acceptance by a couple of months, she said students would have to apply to more universities in case they were not accepted to the University of Illinois. 

    Other students, like Amy Narotsky, senior in ACES, believe the new system will benefit the admissions process. 

    “If there’s one deadline, then everyone finds out at the same time and then people can stop freaking out in October whether they’re hearing back from the early admissions deadlines,” she said. 

    Walsh also said the yield rate, or the percent of deferred students who are ultimately offered admission and decide to enroll, has been declining. 

    The University hopes the new policy will reduce anxiety and confusion over deferrals, and will increase the number of students who ultimately choose to attend the University. 

    “If they’re admitted, hopefully there won’t be that sour taste of ‘well, I was sort of second-mind in that pool,’ which really wasn’t the case,” Walsh said.

    She also said the Feb. 13 deadline still leaves plenty of time for accepted students to decide whether to enroll, since many students wait until late April to make a final decision on where to attend college.

    Walsh said there is some nervousness among the admissions faculty over the changes, but overall there is agreement that this seems to be what is best for the University and for the students. Lisa R. Micele said she thinks the single date will be beneficial in the end. 

    “I support anything that creates a more humane admissions process,” Micele said.

    Eric can be reached at [email protected].