Dec. 2, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 6

current issue
archive / search

    More outreach draws more of brightest students worldwide

    The Office of College Admissions is riding an early applications tidal wave this fall with an applicant pool increase of 36 percent compared to one year ago and a 91 percent increase from two years ago.

    “I am genuinely delighted by the extraordinary increase in the numbers of early action applications again this year,” said John Boyer, Dean of the College.

    “Like last year, this year’s early action numbers strengthen our conviction that there are many more gifted students across the United States and around the world who are interested in a Chicago education than we had ever been in touch with before.”

    Michael Behnke, Vice President and Dean of College Enrollment, said, “This is the second and final year of results from an effort to contact high school students earlier and in greater numbers. These applicants first heard from our admissions office when they were high school sophomores,” said Behnke, “so this group of students reflects our increased outreach. Increases or decreases in applications in the future are likely to be less dramatic.”

    “It is really gratifying to see that our efforts to be in touch with such students earlier on and more often during their high school careers are clearly paying off,” Boyer added.

    Early applications rose from 1,215 last year to 1,648 this fall. In 1998, the College received 862 early applications.

    “Early applicants see in Chicago the structure and rigor in the academic program that is so conspicuously missing in what is offered by even the most selective competing colleges and universities,” said Ted O’Neill, Dean of College Admissions.

    Behnke said, “The response so far indicates that when students hear about Chicago, they are intrigued and follow through with applications and visits. And their academic credentials show they are the types of students who can thrive here.”

    SAT test scores are one component of a student’s academic credentials, and applicants continue to report high scores. The percentage of applicants scoring in the top tier––1,500 or higher out of 1,600––doubled this year and increased 158 percent over the last two years.

    While these scores provide some indication of students’ academic skills, O’Neill said he and his staff in admissions always look to see what a student’s scores mean in the context of the entire application. “Student selection is based not only on students’ test scores but on their accomplishments, their desire for a substantial liberal-arts education and for the things they can do for the College community, including their capacity to add different experiences and perspectives to the College,” said O’Neill. “This year’s early applicants look gratifyingly similar to applicants Chicago has admitted in the past.”

    Interest from students in every region of the country increased for the second year in a row, with the most dramatic increase in interest from students living in the West (61 percent). The Midwest (39 percent) and New England (38 percent) came in second and third for increased interest. The international student applications (96 percent increase) nearly doubled.

    The distribution of those early action applicants who reported ethnicity showed a marked increase (42 percent) this year in Hispanic or Latino applicants, nearly a 100 percent increase from two years ago.

    Early action applications also showed a higher percentage of women applicants (51.4 percent) than men (48.6 percent).

    While Chicago does not insist upon a commitment from students accepted during the early application competition, O’Neill said it is likely that 35 percent of the Class of 2004 will have been admitted early. Offers of acceptance will be finalized Dec. 14, and the admissions office staff will begin the selection process again in January, when regular applications are due.