November 21, 2000

C.U. Early Decision Applications Rise

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More and more high school seniors are making Cornell their first choice as applications for early decision continue to rise.

2,571 students submitted applications this year, up from 2,267 last year, representing a 13 percent increase.

Wendy J. Schaerer, interim director of admissions, noted that high school students are spurred to apply early as admission at all universities appears to be getting increasingly selective.

Peer institutions also experienced significant increases in early decision applications this year. Yale University experienced a 15 percent increase and the University of Pennsylvania experienced a 10.4 percent increase.

Cornell’s early decision admission rate for last year was 46 percent compared to Cornell’s regular decision acceptance rate of under 31 percent.

David Skolnik, a high school senior who applied early, remarked that a higher likelihood for being accepted was an important factor in his decision.

“I heard that there are less applicants applying early,” Skolnik said, who also noted the different admission rates for early and regular decision outlined in the Big Red Book.

Skolnik is also confident that Cornell is his first choice. “I knew my heart was set on it and I really wanted to go,” he said. “It’s great academics; it has great school spirit. That’s what I needed; I needed a mixture of sports and academics.”

Decisions are still being finalized for the class of 2005 and will be mailed out about December 13.

“There is some advantage for the University knowing the proportion of the class coming in,” Schaerer said. She added, however, “We’re somewhat concerned about the number of students we come across on the road who feel they have to apply early.”

Students admitted under early decision made up 32 percent of the Class of 2004.

Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, compared this figure to other universities such as Harvard University which might admit up to 60 percent of their freshman class under early action. Except for Harvard and Brown University which offer the early action application, the other Ivy League institutions offer the early decision application.

“Cornell has gone against the trend to admit large numbers of its freshman class through early decision,” Davis said. “[The University] has been applauded for holding the line. We want to give all students an equal chance for admission.”

“Minority students tend to apply to early decision in lower numbers. That’s a another reason we wait for regular decision,” Schaerer added.

Plans to house all freshman on North Campus next year, in addition to the highest yield in 16 years for the Class of 2004, has encouraged the University to be more selective. Cornell must have enough beds for students who decide to matriculate.

This greater selectivity, however, won’t be reflected in early decision acceptances, according to Schaerer. Instead the University will admit fewer students in April and use the wait list, if necessary.

“While this is certainly good news … it’s no longer a good problem to have over-enrollment,” Davis said.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits