April 7, 2009

Acceptance rate falls with Common Application

[img id="77563" align="alignleft"] The admissions rate for the University of Chicago class of 2013, the first to use the Common Application, reached a record low of 26.8 percent, down one percentage point from last year and 13 points down from admissions rates four years ago.

The decrease is part of a nationwide trend in increasing selectivity at elite universities but may also be due to the University’s switch to the Common App and an effort by the University to reach broader audiences. The nine percent increase in applications, from 12,381 to 13,600 applicants, fell in line with the increase other universities have experienced after switching to the Common App. Diversity, education background, and gender ratios remain approximately the same as last year.

“Over time we’ve established and recruited many more applicants. We’ve spread the word more widely and responsibly,” said Ted O’Neill, dean of admissions. “It is a class that is more talented than ever, though [the difference] won’t be dramatic.”

Despite the decrease in the admissions rate, the University admitted more students than ever, accepting 5.7 percent more students than last year for a total of 3,652 students. O’Neill expects a class of 1,350 students to enroll, but he doesn’t know what the yield—how many accepted students matriculate—will be. To completely fill the class without going to the waitlist, 37 percent of accepted students must come to the College. Last year, the yield was 39 percent.

If less than a full class commits by May, the deadline to accept an offer of admission, O’Neill plans to fill in the gaps from a wait-list of 1,033 students.

While early admission applications fell by 14 percent, regular admission applications increased substantially for an overall increase of about 10 percent. Admissions officials attributed the decrease in early admissions to concerns about the economy and that potential applicants may have been deterred by the University’s greater selectivity last year. Early admissions made up about one- third of acceptances.

Although the admissions rate is lower than ever before, it remains much higher than that of peer institutions, such as Harvard’s 7 percent, Yale’s 7.5 percent, Stanford’s 7.6 percent and Princeton’s 9.79 percent. This year, Harvard had 29,112 applicants for about 1,500 spots, and 30,428 students applied for about 1,700 spots at Stanford.

The class of 2013 is the last admitted by Ted O’Neill and Michael Behnke. In June, Behnke, vice president and dean of college admissions and financial aid, will be replaced by Jim Nondorf, and O’Neill will leave the admissions office to focus on teaching.

O’Neill said that regardless of any changes in numbers, this class represents the same values that he has emphasized every year. “My mark is 28 years old. We looked for a good class every year. We didn’t look for different things. We looked for the same things: students who most appreciate a Chicago education,” O’Neill said.