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Some colleges extend deadline because of Sandy

Top colleges and universities in the Boston area and across the country are extending their November early admissions deadlines for prospective students because of this week’s storm.

Tufts University pushed back its first early decision deadline from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7. Wellesley College extended its deadline from Nov. 1 to Nov. 6. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University now have flexible deadlines. Outside the state, top schools such as Yale, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia have also extended their deadline.

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The announcements offer a few days of relief for anxious high school seniors applying early to schools. Last year, slightly more than 300 students applied for early decision to Wellesley, and about 6,000 applied for early action to MIT.

Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions for MIT, said there would be no firm deadline for students who were affected by Sandy, which caused widespread power outages and flooding in the eastern United States. Even if the late applicant wasn’t clearly from an area hit by Sandy, he said, the MIT admissions office will not look too closely where applicants are from if they apply late.

“We aren’t going to do too much follow-up,” Schmill said. “Generally speaking, students are not going to overabuse this, and we are going to trust that anyone who used the flexible deadline really needed it.” Schmill said the MIT admissions office has to frequently deal with the effects of poor weather conditions. “We are generally accommodating,” he said.

The Harvard admissions office issued a statement on its website, saying that if students are unable to meet the deadline, they should e-mail the admissions office. Those applying to Harvard should “be aware of our longstanding flexibility” with admissions deadlines, the statement said.

Tufts announced on its website that the deadline for its first early decision would be pushed back a week.

“Given the effects of Hurricane Sandy for students in areas of damage, loss of power, and closed schools, the deadline for Early Decision I applicants to Tufts University will be extended,” the statement said.

Jennifer Desjarlais, dean of admissions and financial aid for Wellesley College, said the decision to extend the deadline was easy. She said that generally, students who apply through the early decision process, which is binding if they are accepted, have completed most of their applications at this point.

An extended deadline is nothing new for Wellesley, she said. Whenever there is a major natural disaster, admissions will accommodate those who are affected.

There were several reasons Wellesley chose to extend the deadline this time, she said. The process is electronic, so those without power would be at a disadvantage. Additionally, if students do not have school for several days, they might not be able to communicate with the teachers who are sending references.

But Desjarlais said the number one concern is safety. “Sometimes these experiences are personally and emotionally disruptive, and this process should not complicate that. We want to make sure everybody’s first priority is staying safe.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at Klandergan@globe.com. For more coverage of area colleges and universities, go to Your Campus pages.
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