January 24, 2001

Early Decision: Class of '05

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For several hundred high school seniors, apprehension about what lies ahead ended in mid-December, when Cornell accepted them as the first members of the Class of 2005 under its early decision program.

Cornell received 2,425 early admission applications this year, a seven percent increase over last year’s 2,264 applications.

The University accepted 40 percent of the early applicants, who will make up about one third of the Class of 2005, a slight increase from last year’s 32 percent, but a large overall increase since 1998, when 26 percent of the Class of 2002 was accepted early decision, according to Wendy Schaerer, interim director of admissions.

Other universities also received more early decision applications and acceptances this year.

According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the number of early decision applications to the University of Pennsylvania increased 10.4 percent to 2,833 applications.

Schaerer said she believed that some peer institutions’ applicant pool and percentage of accepted applicants have “gone up significantly.”

Early admission figures also demonstrate increased interest in the University, as students who apply early are legally bound to attend Cornell if the University accepts them.

“We are pleased that so many students have selected us as their number one choice,” said Doris Davis, associate provost of admissions and enrollment.

Except for Harvard University and Brown University, all of the Ivy League institutions have a similar binding early decision policy.

However, similarities in admission policies with the other Ivys’ ends there.

Most of the other schools accept a much higher percentage of their incoming class from the pool of early applicants. Last year, Harvard accepted 60 percent of their incoming freshman class from early decision.

“Cornell has gone against the trend to admit large numbers of its freshman class through early decision,” Davis said.

The University has avoided accepting most of its incoming class early for a variety of reasons. The most prominent of these is “underrepresented students do not apply early decision in as large numbers as other students do,” Schaerer said.

“We would like to see more students of color apply to Cornell early decision,” Davis said. “Although,” she added, “we are pleased that our numbers have shown some improvement in this regard.”

Davis’ office would not release any more specific data about the demographics of the accepted early applicants.

The most she would say was that “[o]verall, the E.D. [early decision] class is geographically diverse and academically strong.”

The University will decide the future of hundreds more high school seniors in early April, when regular decision applicants hear from the admission office.

Archived article by Maggie Frank