College acceptance rate falls

Undergraduate admission to the U of C has become increasingly competitive, but the University still admits a far higher percentage of applicants than peer institutions, according to admissions statistics announced Thursday.

This year, 10,408 students applied to the College, an 8-percent increase in applications from last year. The University accepted a total of 3,628 students, amounting to an overall acceptance rate of 34.9 percent. For last year’s incoming class—the class of 2010—9,542 students applied and 3,673 were accepted, at an acceptance rate of 38 percent.

By comparison, Columbia College accepted 8.9 percent of applicants in 2007, while Dartmouth College accepted 15 percent of applicants. U.S. News and World Report rated the U of C, Columbia, and Dartmouth as equals in their most recent national university rankings.

The College saw a rise in the number of Early Action applications to 3,068—an increase of 11 percent from last year. Of those applicants, 1,385, or 40 percent of those who applied early, were accepted. Only 26 percent of those who applied regular decision, along with those who had been deferred from early decision, were given offers to attend the U of C.

Ted O’Neill, dean of Admissions, said he expects to have approximately 800 students on an unweighted waiting list, and hopes to have a first-year entering class of 1220 students—meaning that roughly a third of those offered admission are expected to accept.

“We’re anxious because we want the students we’ve admitted to come, and for every one of to have wonderful options for next year,” wrote Libby Pearson, assistant director of College Admissions, on the Admissions blog.

Acceptance rates got more selective across the board at competitive institutions this year, with all but one Ivy League school reporting a drop in the proportion of accepted applicants. The College anticipated an increase in applicants after regaining its top-10 spot in the U.S. News and World Report rankings this year, being named with the best overall academic experience in the Princeton Review, and stepping up recruitment efforts with redesigned materials and an increased presence in minority and low-income high schools. Still, the U of C’s acceptance rate stands far higher than that of most peer institutions, a fact administrators have commonly attributed to self-selection.

“I put a lot of work into the essays. I feel like the essays make this place self-selective—they attract a particular kind of student. My high school is a feeder high school. Twelve people from my class got in, but even really qualified people didn’t,” said David Raphael, an admitted student from Bard High School in Brooklyn, New York, who was visiting campus.

Many prospective and admitted students credited the University with a unique approach to admissions.

“The U of C’s creativity and personality showed through in the way they do admissions,” said Raley White, a waitlisted student from Durham, North Carolina. “I felt the U of C was very competitive.”

Whether that perception will hold after next year’s transition to the common application remains to be seen, although administrators are predicting a substantial increase in applications following the switch.

According to the Admissions blog, the office expects to start offering open spots to students on the waitlist, if any become available, around the end of the month.