Greg Mankiw comments on Harvard’s decision to end early decision in the admissions process.

The early admission process has been becoming increasingly strategic on the part of both schools and students, and this game playing does not seem to serve much social purpose… If a systemic change is going to occur, this is the place.

I think that the campaign against early decision is a classic case of a superficial reform that is likely to have unintended consequences.

Early decision is most useful at schools that are classic “safety schools” for students who would prefer to go to the Harvards of the world. Places like Rochester and Brandeis are flooded with applicants who really would prefer to go elsewhere. In April, they have no idea who is going to respond favorably to their acceptance offers. Early decision helps them to manage their admissions process without a huge waiting list.

If the anti-early-decision crusade succeeds in persuading most colleges to drop early decision, I expect that soon afterward we will be reading stories about the agony for high schools students of the waiting list process.