Toto, I have a feeling we’re not uncommon anymore…

The New York Times used us as a case study in their enormously long article “Application Inflation: When is Enough Enough?”

By Ella Christoph

When is Enough Enough?

When the U of C widens its applicant pool so much that apparently normal students (like first-year Maya Lozinski from Menlo Park, who likes maroon scarves and declining admissions rates) start coming here. The horror!

High school admissions counselor Susan Tree thinks the U of C might be joining the ranks of, you know, other really great colleges: “The risk they run is that they’re joining the ranks of generic, highly selective colleges." The horror!

Apparently the U of C is the best example of a nationwide trend of heavy marketing to recruit college applicants, who now apply to dozens of schools to increase their chances of getting into schools with single-digit yields. Who knew.

The article includes the obligatory "Where fun comes to die" reference ("It had long been dogged by a stereotype as a place for nerds and social misfits who shun sunlight and conversation."), the "Obama factor," and references to your favorite or not-so-favorite U of C big thinkers, Saul Bellow and Milton Friedman.

The account of the admission offices' changing vision includes some gems, albeit no references to Ted O'Neill's hair. O'Neill's replacement, Jim Nondorf, is apparently a "super-marketer," according to his colleagues. (Hence the scarves, and chocolate delivered to visiting parents – without the hair, you need something, right?)

“'Don’t kid yourselves, the presidents and trustees want you to have more applications,' he said. 'If you don’t think that’s the case, I don’t know what schools you’re working at, but it’s true,'" Nondorf said at an admissions conference.

Oh, and our personal favorite. John Boyer states what all us Columbia-rejects wish were actually true—the U of C is better. And yes, he said this to the Maroon last winter.

"Mr. Boyer has compared Chicago’s application total with that of Columbia University, which also has a strong liberal arts curriculum. 'I believe we are a better university than they are, so I think we should have more applications than they do,' he told the student newspaper last winter. The remark was a 'friendly, competitive gesture,' Mr. Boyer says today. 'I don’t think Chicago should stand behind New York on this one. We deserve the same number of applications, if not more.'"