The Office of College Admissions enjoyed an 11.8 percent increase in early applications this year, with major strides made in minority recruitment. The 2,764 early action applicants mark one of the largest pools in the Colleges history.
Up by nearly 300 early applications compared to last years pool, the 11.8 percent increase is a large jump compared to the two percent increase seen last fall. Of the early applicants, 1,137 (41 percent) were admitted, which is 152 more than were admitted last year.
The admissions office held a new overnight program for minority students in November when 120 prospective students stayed in the dorms, attended classes, and spoke with a panel of current minority students about their experiences at the University.
One-third of the prospective students were flown in for the weekend at the schools expense. The program came about in response to student requests at a Provosts Initiative of Minority Issues (PIMI) meeting last spring.
The Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) helped plan the program with the admissions office.
We were very happy to be able to collaborate formally with OMSA in designing parts of the program, said Paul Ford, assistant director of admissions and interim director for Student of Color Recruitment.
Of the early admits, 4.66 percent were black, and 5.8 percent were Latino, which is consistent with last years numbers. Dean of Admissions Ted ONeill is optimistic about the new programs potential. I think itll help the minority numbers either in this year or in future years, he said. Were going to do it again next year.
Reacting to this years admissions statistics, ONeill expressed satisfaction. Needless to say, we felt this was not only a larger pool, but a stronger one, ONeill said.
While ONeill said he is not certain why the increase occurred, he said it might be due to the accessibility of the online application.
Wed love to think that its because were recruiting harder, but Im safest saying that more students applied online and applied earlier, rather than later, ONeill said.
The writing section of the new 2,400-point SAT test will have no effect on a students application to the College. The verbal and math sections, however, will still be included in the application.
We dont know what they mean, ONeill said of the writing section scores. We will continue evaluating applicants on the old 1,600 scale until we can do some research to find out whether the writing test is predictive of anything that the other scores, the grades, the course selection, the essays, the interview, the letters, et cetera, do not adequately predict.
He added that applicants interest in the U of Cs rigorous liberal arts education is evident in their essays, their curriculum, and their overall applications.
This is probably in part because of the communication that we have with them, but students seem to be hearing us and pegging the U of C correctly, ONeill said.
Although admissions counselors are still reading regular notification applications, ONeill has some sense of what the overall picture will look like.
Im guessing that were going to be up in overall applications in the eight to ten percent range, ONeill said. He added that international applications in the regular decision pool increased this year.
National politics could also play a role at the college admissions level. Last month the Senate passed a bill that not only included a $3.75 billion student aid program, but also will allow the federal government to rate academic rigor of the countrys 18,000 high schools. The program would provide $750 to $1,300 grants to low-income first- and second-year college students who have fulfilled a rigorous secondary school program of study.
ONeill is wary of the initiative: I think we should have real reservations about this administration, this Department of Education, or any administration trying to determine local school policy, he said.
The program would also give larger grants to college upperclassmen majoring in math, science, and other critical fields, according to The New York Times.
Whos to say that [the U of Cs] English majors arent as important to the health of America as computer science majors or electrical engineers? Im not willing to concede that, ONeill said. Why should our students suffer for not having accessibility to these funds? It seems to me short-sighted and an oddly top-down approach for an allegedly free-market government.