Admissions admits fewer applicants to the college

By Tim Michaels

With the college selection process complete for most prospective students, an immense pressure has been lifted off their shoulders. Still, the admissions office is far from such relief, as it continues to plod through mountains of paperwork to prepare for the incoming Class of 2008.

Adapting to the new early-admissions policies at top universities like Harvard and Yale, the College decided to accept 200 fewer students this year in hopes that the yield of students would increase dramatically. However, the yield remained close to that of previous years, with around 1145 students accepting an offer of admission. “We took a calculated risk in admitting fewer students, but didn’t see a large difference from last year’s yield,” said Ted O’Neill, director of admissions in the College.

The College extended offers of admission to 3318 applicants and waitlisted around 650 students, aiming for an incoming class of 1170 students. To compensate for the low yield, more students will be taken off the waitlist than in previous years.

As the admissions office continues to sort through the waitlist applicants, it is apparent that Chicago is not the only school that will be doing this. “After talking with several of my colleagues at other top universities, it seems that most schools will be taking more students from the wait list,” O’Neill said.

For Chicago, the explanation for the low yield seems to revolve around the types of students who were accepted this year. “By the numbers, this year’s applicants were especially qualified students,” O’Neill said. The admissions office expected that by accepting fewer of the more qualified students, it would be able to attract students more likely to accept an offer from Chicago than from another school.

“We can only guess and hypothesize as to why these trends are occurring,” O’Neill said. “It could be that the cost of higher education is becoming too expensive for some students, combined with the possibility that other, less prestigious schools are giving more money to attract students.”

O’Neill emphasized that the changes were not significant, and that the type of students admitted for the class of 2008 was especially qualified, talented, and “in tune with the University’s intellectual mission.”

Although fewer international students accepted offers of admission this year, there does not seem to be any clear explanation for this trend. The Class of 2008 is equally split between male and female students. The average test scores of the class have not yet been calculated.

During the weeks leading up to the May 1 deadline, the Prospective Students Advisory Committee (PSAC), hosted several events to help sway applicants’ decisions. Two prospective student overnight events were held on April 12 and 24. During the overnight stays, students were able to eat in the dining halls, attend a Registered Student Organization fair, and stay in the dorms overnight.

“A lot of the prospective students were really enthusiastic about the U of C after their visit, and hopefully for those that were unsure of where to go, the programs helped them decide whether or not this was the right place,” said Gabe Molina, president of the PSAC advisory board. Compared to events held earlier in the year for prospective students, the April and May events were more successful.

“These overnight events really help students get a better sense of the school,” said Mia Valdez, a first-year in the College who organized the events for PSAC. “By the spring, the programs run much more smoothly, and really give students a good sense of the college.”

Even as one admissions cycle ends, another begins, as high school juniors start to arrive on campus and face the stress, drama, and anxiety of college admissions.