An Antitrust Analysis of College Early Admission Programs

Adam L. Henry

Abstract


College admissions at the level of elite colleges and universities would seem, to the uninitiated, to offer a model of the competitive market that antitrust law endeavors to promote and maintain. Notwithstanding the significant branding power of a handful of truly elite colleges, the college market exhibits many of the paradigmatic competitive market’s hallmark features, including substantial numbers of both producers and consumers of the educational product, and seemingly unhindered information on the parts of both parties. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the system promotes sometimes-fierce competition: not only among applicants for elite colleges, but also among colleges for elite applicants. Such competition drives colleges to make themselves more attractive in two ways: by reducing prices through scholarships, grants, research stipends, and the like, and by improving their product through inducements like honors designations and programs. In either form, this competition redounds to the economic benefit of admitted students.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2005.29

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