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Wake Forest University is introducing an early-action option specifically for applicants who would be the first in their families to attend college.

The private college in Winston-Salem, N.C., announced the new program Thursday as a way to give first-generation students the same admissions opportunities as those from college-educated families. The nonbinding early-action plan will notify first-gen applicants of their admissions decision by Jan. 15, which will give them enough time to weigh other offers before committing.

Wake Forest will continue to offer all students an early-decision option. Such programs have been criticized for disadvantaging low-income and first-generation students, who apply early less often than those from continuing-generation families either because acceptance is binding before they have a chance to review their financial aid package or because they don’t know about the offering.

“Wake Forest has always had a deep commitment to first-generation students and supporting their access and success,” Eric Maguire, Wake Forest’s vice president for enrollment, wrote in a press release about the decision. “The real advantage of this plan is that first-generation students who want to come to Wake Forest have a new option to apply Early Action and know that the University values their experience and wants to create more opportunity for them.”

Wake Forest’s approach sets it apart from other institutions in addressing what many see as the uneven admissions opportunities early decision can make for students from wealthier, more college-literate families. Last Tuesday Virginia Tech announced it was eliminating its early-decision program entirely, along with its policy of legacy admissions preferences.