December 10, 1998
Vol. 18 No. 6

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    Admissions Office sees a 41 percent increase in early applicants to College

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Fall is always a busy time for the Office of College Admissions, and this year the staff is welcoming a 41 percent increase in early applications.

    “This is very good news for the College and a historic achievement,” said John Boyer, Dean of the College.

    Early applications rose from 862 to 1,215, with increased interest from every region of the country, particularly from the south (82 percent) and southwest (69 percent).

    The quality of applicants as measured by SAT scores increased as well. The percentage of applicants scoring 1,200 or higher out of 1,600 increased significantly––scores in the 1,500 to 1,600 tier increased by 28 percent, in the 1,400 to 1,490 tier by 59 percent and in the 1,300 to 1,390 tier by 33 percent.

    “What’s particularly exciting about this is students who apply early action are thinking very seriously about choosing Chicago,” said Michael Behnke, Vice President of Enrollment. While Behnke believes next year’s class will show a substantial increase in students who made Chicago their first choice, he said the target size of the class will remain the same.

    Behnke attributes increasing interest in Chicago to a combination of greater outreach and the appeal of Chicago’s educational opportunities. This year, the admissions office improved its direct-mail efforts. Behnke said the new materials include “literature that really speaks to some of the unique features about this place.” Messages are geared toward students who want to pursue the life of the mind as well as participate in extracurricular activities, foreign study and athletics. More than 20 percent of students on the mailing list requested additional information about Chicago, whereas a typical response rate for direct mail is 8 to 10 percent, Behnke noted.

    Dean of Admissions Ted O’Neill and his staff have strongly encouraged students to visit the campus and have increased the number of informational programs offered, such as the Veteran’s Day Open House, during which prospective students tour the campus, meet with admissions counselors, attend classes and talk with faculty and College students. Admissions staff members also encourage prospective students and their families to explore the city of Chicago’s festivals, museums and restaurants. This past summer on-campus interviews increased 52 percent.

    “Obviously from the numbers, they like what they see,” said Behnke, adding that the University has “a wonderful location in a city, a curriculum unlike any other university in the country, and now added to that, enriched opportunities for foreign study, internships and research.”

    Boyer noted that many of the questions he receives from prospective students are about study abroad. In addition to numerous intensive language and study-abroad programs, College students now have the opportunity to take the common core civilization course in another country with a Chicago faculty member who travels with them. “There is no other university that is doing something like this,” said Boyer.

    Within five years, both Boyer and Michael Jones, Associate Dean of the College, expect one fifth of the College class to study their civilization course abroad and one third of the College class to graduate proficient in a foreign language. This winter, the admissions office will begin mailing a new brochure that highlights Chicago’s international programs.

    “I think we’re at the beginning of a very good time in the history of the College,” said Boyer. “This response is very good for us.”

    Offers of acceptance will be finalized tomorrow, and the admissions counselors will begin the process again in January when regular applications are due.