Early applications rise 35 percent over last yearBy Carrie Golus
The Office of College Admissions is riding an early applications tidal wave this fall with an applicant pool increase of 35 percent over last year. According to a December story in The New York Times, Chicagos gain was one of the largest among selective universities.
The College received 2,435 early applications this year, compared to 1,801 last year. Early applications have increased dramatically every year since 1998, when just 862 prospective students applied early.
Even as the pool of applicants has increased, their academic credentials have grown stronger. Applicants SAT scores, for example, are higher this year, with more than 10 percent of early applicants reporting scores in the top tier (1,500 or higher out of 1,600).
The fact that the increase in early applications is so heavily weighted with students with strong academic credentials shows that weve been presenting the University accurately, as an intense academic experience, said Michael Behnke, Vice President and Dean of College Enrollment. In the overall pool, weve seen a marked increase in applicants with strong credentials and a decrease in those with weaker credentials, he added.
Weve had more applications year after year, both early applications and total applications, said Ted ONeill, Dean of College Admissions. Its a trend that snowballs: more people apply, they tell their friends and their friends apply.
The increase in early applications is spread fairly evenly across all areas of the country. The largest increase came from the West (47 percent), followed by the Southwest (39 percent), the Midwest (25 percent) and New England (25 percent).
Applications from Illinois increased 35 percent, more than the overall Midwest. We were down in Illinois last year, so we made special efforts, said Behnke.
The distribution of early applicants who reported ethnicity showed a marked increase in Hispanic or Latino applicants (71 percent), while African-American applicants increased 16 percent. Theres a strong correlation between Illinois applicants and minorities, because most Illinois applicants come from the greater Chicagoland area,î said Behnke. ìWeíre excited about that, because weíre always looking to improve our outreach to students of color.
Early action applicants also showed a slightly higher percentage of women applicants (51 percent) than men (49 percent).
This year was the first that students could apply online, which might explain some of the increase, OíNeill said. In addition, the Admissions Office has begun using the Web more as a recruiting tool. Prospective students are now directed to informal pages created by current students, rounding out the official information on the Admissions site.
Chicago remains one of the few early action institutions, meaning students are not required to enroll if they are accepted early, unlike early decision schools, which do require students to enroll. Nevertheless, more than 40 percent of Chicagos early applicants are expected to join the class of 2006.
Among selective institutions, only Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University offer early action admission. None of these has seen a percentage increase as large as Chicagos.