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Early applications to University jump by nearly one-half

The University of Chicago’s Early Action program has received a record number of 4,329 applications to the College, representing a 42-percent increase from last year’s 3,041 early applications.

Other universities with early action programs have experienced similar increases in the number of applicants. Yale University dean of undergraduate admission Jeff Brenzel told the Yale Daily News last week that Yale had received 4,820 early applicants, a 36-percent increase from last year. The Wall Street Journal reported that Georgetown University has received 5,925 applications, a 30-percent increase from last year.

The surge in applications may be partly due to Harvard University and Princeton University’s elimination of early admission programs. Administrators at these universities believe early decision programs put underprivileged applicants at a disadvantage by making them commit to one financial aid package without a chance to compare offers from different schools.

As a result of the increase, University dean of admissions Ted O’Neill said he believes selecting students for the Class of 2012 will be difficult.

“We’re almost certainly going to defer more applications this year,” he said.

This year marks the last that the University will exclusively use the Uncommon Application. The Admissions Office applied for and received membership in the Common Application group last year, enabling it to bind applications with a collection of nearly 300 schools that use a standard form applicants can send to multiple schools. The University will implement the Common Application beginning with the class of 2013.

O’Neill believes that the Uncommon Application currently in use attracts some applicants while driving others away.

“It does both, but I’m not sure where the balance is,” he said.

In spite of the switch to the Common Application, the unique style of the University’s essay prompts will not change.

“The students who use the Common will have to fill out a substantial supplement, which means they will have to answer our interesting questions,” O’Neill said last year.

Due to the uniqueness of the Uncommon Application, the Admissions Office has taken steps to make the application easier to use. Last May, admissions staff created a blog primarily for the purpose of answering prospective students’ questions. The blog also updates applicants on the status of application processing.

“Rumor has it we received 27 bins of mail yesterday,” said assistant director of admissions Jon Ryan Quinn in an early November blog post. “Needless to say, we are incredibly busy opening, sorting, and processing all your mail.”

Applications for Early Action were accepted until November 1. Applicants will receive their decisions or deferrals in mid-December.

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