Acceptance rate falls with Common Application

The admissions rate for the University of Chicago class of 2013, the first to use the Common Application, reached a record low of 26.8 percent, down one percentage point from last year and 13 points down from admissions rates four years ago.

Photo: Tom Tian/The Chicago Maroon
Trends in admissions over the last five years.

The admissions rate for the University of Chicago class of 2013, the first to use the Common Application, reached a record low of 26.8 percent, down one percentage point from last year and 13 points down from admissions rates four years ago.

 The decrease is part of a nationwide trend in increasing selectivity at elite universities but may also be due to the University’s switch to the Common App and an effort by the University to reach broader audiences. The nine percent increase in applications, from 12,381 to 13,600 applicants, fell in line with the increase other universities have experienced after switching to the Common App. Diversity, education background, and gender ratios remain approximately the same as last year.

“Over time we’ve established and recruited many more applicants. We’ve spread the word more widely and responsibly,” said Ted O’Neill, dean of admissions. “It is a class that is more talented than ever, though [the difference] won’t be dramatic.”

Despite the decrease in the admissions rate, the University admitted more students than ever, accepting 5.7 percent more students than last year for a total of 3,652 students. O’Neill expects a class of 1,350 students to enroll, but he doesn’t know what the yield—how many accepted students matriculate—will be. To completely fill the class without going to the waitlist, 37 percent of accepted students must come to the College. Last year, the yield was 39 percent.

If less than a full class commits by May, the deadline to accept an offer of admission, O’Neill plans to fill in the gaps from a wait-list of 1,033 students.

While early admission applications fell by 14 percent, regular admission applications increased substantially for an overall increase of about 10 percent. Admissions officials attributed the decrease in early admissions to concerns about the economy and that potential applicants may have been deterred by the University’s greater selectivity last year. Early admissions made up about one- third of acceptances.

Although the admissions rate is lower than ever before, it remains much higher than that of peer institutions, such as Harvard’s 7 percent, Yale’s 7.5 percent, Stanford’s 7.6 percent and Princeton’s 9.79 percent. This year, Harvard had 29,112 applicants for about 1,500 spots, and 30,428 students applied for about 1,700 spots at Stanford.

The class of 2013 is the last admitted by Ted O’Neill and Michael Behnke. In June, Behnke, vice president and dean of college admissions and financial aid, will be replaced by Jim Nondorf, and O’Neill will leave the admissions office to focus on teaching.

O’Neill said that regardless of any changes in numbers, this class represents the same values that he has emphasized every year. “My mark is 28 years old. We looked for a good class every year. We didn’t look for different things. We looked for the same things: students who most appreciate a Chicago education,” O’Neill said.

  • Sara J

    Nice graphic!

  • Ray

    Since when H,Y, P and S were CHicago’s peers? I always thought NYU, JHU and Emory were…

  • Todd

    I dunno if Harvard and Yale are Chicago’s peers, but certainly places like Cornell, UPenn, and Hopkins seems to be…

    Ray, NYU and Emory? Seriously?

  • tracy

    out in the real world, you’ll find out that the education from the uofc – from the college – pretty much meets or beats the education level and what is taught in the classroom at the ivys. i should know -i graduated from the college, had siblings and friends at ivys and now work at harvard. the uofc education is respected and deservedly so.

  • Vikram

    Ray is a moron.

  • Fact

    To Todd and Ray:

    Harvard considers Chicago its peer school, so does Yale. Since the founding of the University of Chicago, Chicago has been Harvard and Yale’s peer. The first national ranking of universities ever published in 1906 put Chicago number 1 in the country, ahead of Harvard and Yale. The second national ranking published in 1934 again put Chicago in the top 1 or 2. It is sad that you guys had no clue about the status of the University of Chicago. QS Times world universities ranking (2008) put Chicago one of the top 8 universities in the world. The only U.S. universities ranked ahead of Chicago are Harvard, Yale and Caltech. Academic ranking of world’s top universities by Shanghai Jiatong University in China (Chinese equilvalent to Stanford) consistently ranks University of Chicago top 10 in the world, ahead of Yale and Oxford.

    Harvard Fact Book (2007-2008) published by Harvard Provost ffice (page 25) lists its peer schools (Ivy, Chicago, Stanford, MIT). When Harvard sets its college tuition and fees, it pays attention of the tuition and fee rates at its peer schools. Harvard considers only the Ivies, Chicago, Stanford, and MIT as its peer schools.

    Similarly, Yale considers Chicago as its peer school. Please look at Yale’s Institutional Research web site. Yale constantly compare its faculty salary level with that of its peer schools (Chicago, Harvard, Princeton etc.)

  • TODD


    As an INSTITUTION, sure, Yale and Harvard are Chicago’s peers. They have been peers for years. As an UNDERGRADUATE COLLEGE, however, Yale and Harvard don’t really look at Chicago as a peer. For more info on this, I suggest you read Jerome Karabel’s excellent (but long) “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.” In the book, Karabel explains the admissions decisions that specifically makes Harvard consider Chicago to NOT be a peer college.

    As research institutions, sure, Chicago, Harvard, Yale, etc. are definitely peers. Strictly speaking of undergraduate colleges, however, these places are not peers. I’d consider Chicago’s peers on the college level to be places such as Cornell, UPenn, Hopkins, etc.