Early apps to U of C increase

By Isaac Wolf

The admissions office saw a 21 percent jump in early applications this year, riding a nationwide increase in early responses. The results indicate that the College can anticipate a slightly more selective class while maintaining its reputation as self-selective school.

“This is the beginning of a very good class,” dean of admissions Ted O’Neill said. “It’s a high scoring group; it’s getting to be tough competition to get in early.”

While the admissions office does not yet have a precise breakdown of those accepted, O’Neill said the SAT score of the middle 50 percent of those accepted is up 10 points. He also said that the application increase is spread fairly evenly across regions, with the south and southwest–the two regions represented least in the College–up the most. Similarly, international student applications nearly doubled this year, from 72 to 132.

“Every little thing we do to change the school will affect admissions positively,” O’Neill said, pointing to a more concerted effort by the admissions office to inform high school seniors about the College.

“We’re sending more material to more kids,” he said. “More people are seeing us. More people know us.”

Rory Bled, college counselor at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California, said she has not noticed a significantly increased media campaign from the College since she began there in 1995. “Chicago has always had a very strong presence on our campus,” Bled said, noting that 10-15 Berkeley High students are applying to the College this year.

While discussing high school students’ image of the College, Bled was quick to note that although she supports the College’s core curriculum, it scares away many potential applicants.

Several of the students with whom she is navigating the college admissions process reflect this sentiment about Chicago.

Kelsey Israel-Trummel, a senior at Berkeley High, considered applying early to the College but, more interested in pursuing the sciences, decided the core’s mandatory humanities classes would be too constricting. Instead, she applied–and was accepted early–to MIT.

Nathan Israel, a classmate of Israel-Trummel but of no relation, also seriously considered applying to the College. Israel, however, was turned off by his perception of the school as overly intellectual.

“Everyone wanted me to apply here: friends, mom and counselor,” the Brown-bound student said. “They thought I would fit in here. They must know how big a dork I am. But to be honest, it has an intellectual reputation, and that’s not exactly what I wanted.”

Another factor which O’Neill said boosted the school’s applicant pool was the increased use of the online application, which has made the school more accessible and more easy for prospective applicants to pursue.

Both Israel-Trummel and Israel, as well as a third Berkeley High senior, David Chernicoff, described their early applications as a means to spread out and simplify the college application process–the same factor which, according to O’Neill, was the cause of the increase of online applications.

For Chernicoff, having the Nov. 1 deadline for Harvard forced him to begin preparing his essays, recommendations and other materials–not only for Harvard, where he was admitted, but also for all the schools to which he would apply–much earlier than if he had waited for the regular deadline.

“I had to get it together,” he said. “Having a looming, imminent deadline helped get my ducks in a row.”

But while Chernicoff is happy with his decision to apply early, he wonders if any students, even the ones who think they are in love with a school, are informed well enough to commit the next four years of their life an extra six months in advance.

“Do we really know enough to make that decision?” Chernicoff said. “What to do becomes a huge dilemma; for some, it becomes easier to just make a decision and run with it. Most people don’t ever exhaust all the possibilities in selecting a college. I don’t think it’s possible.”