For years, the terms early decision and early action have meant binding and non-binding college acceptances before the usual notification date. With Harvard striking down its early admissions system, and other universities scurrying to follow, these old labels have become suspect -- even though, as recent articles have shown, universities may still practice some forms of early acceptance.
What schools really need now, though, is an end-run around the old terms. Here are some proposals now on the table at admissions offices across the country:
oily admissions: for those acceptances with a certain slimy feel, necessary to the school’s financial welfare but best not to discuss. May derive from Texas-based alums who kick in oil company money to expedite the acceptance of their kids to business school.
eerie admissions: a term meant to cover those unaccountable acceptances, such as the athletic scholarship extended to the chess whiz, or the offer made to a high school student with no extracurricular activities.
only admissions: the new, no-frills form of acceptance, without any fat welcome packet or additional literature sent through the mail; the academic equivalent of an airline e-ticket.
early submissions: a label for those eager beaver applicants who just can’t wait 'til fall of their senior year in high school and start bombarding colleges with material as early as July.
yearly remissions: not technically an admissions matter, but these represent the annual tithing from wealthy graduates who will one day expect their offspring to apply to and be accepted by their alma maters.
early revisions: this curious term signifies that percentage of accepted students who , well before the deadline, decide that they want to matriculate elsewhere.
late action: a polite term for what used to be called the waiting list, or those applicants who have no reasonable hope of getting in unless someone else opts out.
early faction: any admitted students likely to become a cohesive group, such as the College Republicans.
proactive admissions: the new term for offers extended ahead of time to athletes who’ll be snapped up by other schools if another day goes by.
early derision: a cover for those admitted students who in retrospect were ludicrous choices, such as those with bad debts or probation officers.
easy submissives and early emissions: don’t go there.
David Galef is a professor of English and administrator of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Mississippi. His latest books are the novel How to Cope with Suburban Stress and the co-edited fiction anthology 20 over 40.