Since the passing of the January 1 deadline for undergraduate applications, prospective students are waiting in anticipation, while students who have been accepted in the non-binding early action program face one of the hardest decisions a high school senior has to make.
The number of students accepted under early action this year decreased significantly from previous years. Of the 2,420 students who applied early action this year, 965 applicants were accepted early. Last year, 2,903 students applied through the University's early action program, and 1,267 of those students were accepted.
Many students who have been accepted early, however, are making their decision much earlier than students in previous years. "When I was accepted, the choice was obvious. I immediately stopped applying elsewhere, and accepted the offer of admission," said Patrick Sica, a student from Bronxville, New York who was accepted in early action program.
During a recent phone campaign, members of the Prospective Students Advisory Committee (PSAC) contacted students accepted under the early action program. PSAC officers said that, unlike in previous years, a surprising number of accepted students told them directly whether they would accept the offer of admission.
Several student volunteers attended the drive, contacting all accepted students to discuss their questions and concerns in choosing to attend the University.
While the office of admissions is still calculating the final tally of regular applications, the early projection indicates that applications will most likely decrease. "We don't expect that the final total will be higher than last year, and in fact it may be lower," said Ted O'Neill, Dean of undergraduate admissions.
The decrease in regular applications corresponds with a similar decrease in early applications this year.
Despite an expected decline in applications, the admissions office remains extremely busy. Nervous students and dedicated parents are often crammed into the office while waiting to take tours, attend information sessions, and meet for personal interviews.
Many students are heard discussing the essay topics for this year's Uncommon application. "The questions were much more thought provoking and interesting than any other schools' applications," said Julian Klosowiak, a regular admissions applicant from Glenview, Illinois.
For his essay, Klosowiak answered a question that asked students to imagine themselves walking on a tightrope, and to describe the landscape that they would most like to see beneath them.
While college admissions may seem like a mystery to most, new studies and projects are being dedicated to enhancing student ability to predict their application results. Two scientists, Neal Schmitt, chairman of the department of psychology at Michigan State University, and Robert J. Sternberg, professor at Yale and former president of the American Psychological Association, are developing a test similar to the SAT, which would calculate student's personality, creativity, temperament, and flexibility, rather than just cognitive skills.
According to an article published in The New York Times, two Harvard graduate students, Grant Ujifusa and Richard Sorenson, have created www.thickenvelope.com, a website which, for a fee of $79.95, predicts students' chances of being accepted to over 80 competitive universities. On the website, the University is not listed among the 50 toughest schools to gain admission to, while Davidson College, Trinity College, and Harvey Mudd College each were present.
While these services might offer relief to anxious parents and students, most college counselors and college admissions offices are cautious about promoting such methods. "I think the concept behind it plays on students' and families' fears, and that's inappropriate," said Dr. David M. Borus, dean of admissions and financial aid at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.