Odyssey, Early Action get credit for increase in applicationsBy Julia Morse
More than 4,000 students applied to the University this fall—a 45 percent increase from last year and the greatest number of early-admission applications in College history.
“The 45 percent increase was larger than we expected, though we did enter the season expecting an increase,” said Ted O’Neill, Dean of Admissions. “In fact, in two previous years in very recent history, we enjoyed 30 percent or more increases and are aware of the fact that the early plans—especially our non-binding Early Action plan—are increasingly popular with students, as is the University itself.”
The total number of Early Action applications received this fall for the 2008-2009 school year was 4,429. Last year, there were 3,053 Early Action applicants.
While other institutions, including Harvard and Princeton universities, have dropped early- admission options, Chicago’s has remained intact.
“When Harvard announced that it would give up its Early Action program because of the suspicion that the plan favored better counseled, higher-income students, we did a careful investigation of our early pool and found that the early applicants were slightly more likely to be financial-aid recipients,” O’Neill said. “Comforted that the program did not seem to disadvantage anyone, we kept our generous non-binding plan.”
O’Neill, in part, credits the increased interest in Chicago to the College’s new Odyssey Scholarship program, which was established by an anonymous $100 million gift from an alumnus last year. The Odyssey program will allow the University to reduce student loans among undergraduate students whose families demonstrate low or moderate income and high financial need.
For those students whose annual family income is less than $60,000, the loans could be replaced entirely by grants, and for families whose income is between $60,000 and $75,000, the loans could be cut in half.
“We expected the Odyssey Scholarship program, and the attendant wonderful publicity surrounding the gift, would catch the attention and imagination of potential applicants and their families,” O’Neill said.
The pool of Early Action applicants also demonstrated an increase in diversity. African-American applicants increased from 138 last year to 162 this year; Asian applicants from 643 last year to 978 this year; Latino applicants from 168 to 296; and multiracial applicants from five last year to 29 this year.
International Early Action applicants also increased—from 182 last year to 313 this year.
“We like Early Action because it enables some students to get an early answer, in mid-December, and then go on with their applications elsewhere or decide to commit themselves to Chicago,” O’Neill said.
Approximately 1,200 students will be enrolled in next year’s first-year class.