updated 9/18/2006 5:39:10 PM ET 2006-09-18T21:39:10

Princeton University on Monday became the first elite university to follow Harvard's lead and drop its early admissions program, saying it hoped the move would reduce anxiety and lead to a broader pool of applicants.

"We agree that early admission 'advantages the advantaged,'" Princeton President Shirley Tilghman said, echoing Harvard's comments last week.

Harvard's announcement last week that it would evaluate all applicants in a single pool prompted speculation about whether other universities would follow suit — a change that could transform the admissions process for high-achieving students.

Princeton had an "early decision" program, meaning applicants get word by Dec. 15 of their senior year, but must attend if accepted. Harvard's early program was non-binding "early action," meaning students could still weigh offers from other schools in the spring.

Such programs — particularly early decision — have been criticized for increasing the anxiety of the application process and informally discriminating against less sophisticated applicants.

"We believe that elimination of early admission programs can reduce some of the frenzy, complexity and inequity in a process that even under the best of circumstances is inevitably stressful for students and their families," Tilghman said.

Other schools, such as MIT and Yale, have said they constantly evaluate their admissions policies but have indicated they are not inclined to drop early admissions.

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