February 4, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 9

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    Number of applicants jumps while SAT test scores rise

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Over the past 10 years, the University’s College applications have increased by 93 percent, with remarkable increases of 23 percent four years ago and 25 percent in the last year. The most recent applicant pool has increased in quality as well, reporting significantly higher SAT scores compared to last year.

    There will be no increase in the number of incoming first-year students next fall, which means the enrollment process will be more competitive than ever for Chicago applicants.

    Michael Behnke, Vice President and Associate Dean for Enrollment in the College, attributes the jump to several factors, beginning with targeting top high school students. “We’ve focused more on our central strength––academics,” said Behnke. The student prospectus mailed to applicants is newly titled “The Life of the Mind” and notes that Chicago exposes students to “the highest academic standards.”

    The percentage of this year’s applicants scoring 1,300 or higher out of 1,600 on the SAT increased significantly––scores in the 1500-1600 tier increased by 25 percent, in the 1400-1490 tier by 29 percent and in the 1300-1390 tier by 20 percent.

    Behnke said the admissions office is contacting increased numbers of high school students earlier in their application process and encouraging them to see for themselves what the College offers.

    “We’ve encouraged students to get to know us by coming to campus,” said Behnke. Admissions has increased the number of all-day campus programs, which include tours, class visits and interviews with faculty and students. On-campus interviews increased 50 percent last summer.

    “We’re getting the recognition we deserve,” said John Boyer, Dean of the College. “I fully anticipate in the next few years we will be in the 8,000 to 9,000 applicant range. The ‘news’ is getting out.”

    Boyer believes the rigorous quality of Chicago’s liberal education and the broad range of special opportunities Chicago offers––from research positions at Argonne to internships at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C.––is bound to attract gifted, high-ability students. “I first began teaching in the College 25 years ago in our general education program, and the students I have in my Western Civ classes today are as bright and as intellectually ambitious as those I first encountered in 1973,” Boyer said. “But this generation of students is also interested in a broad range of extracurricular commitments, like University Theater, community service and Model United Nations, as well as international and foreign-study opportunities. Chicago provides both––a demanding, first-rate liberal education and a vast array of special opportunities for cultural and personal development.”

    Behnke said future admissions materials will include new brochures for students of color and a guide explaining study-abroad opportunities for accepted students. Planned for the end of the calendar year, these materials will conclude the latest version of admissions materials. “When we complete this direct-mail effort, we will examine the results of our work and then make changes accordingly,” said Behnke.