July 16, 2003

With Applications Down, Diversity Remains Strong

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Cornell is well known among its counterparts for its diversity of student body. As Ezra’s quotation shows, the University was founded on the principle of bringing different people and different ideas together at one institution. For years, Cornell has opened its doors to students from a wide variety of places, cultures and backgrounds.

Despite a drop in applications this year, the Class of 2007 promises to continue this tradition of geographic and racial diversity.

This year was the second year in a row to show a slight decrease in the number of students applying to Cornell.

According to Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, 20,442 applications were received this year, roughly a thousand less than last year. This, coupled with a slightly higher number of acceptances, placed the University’s admit rate at 31 percent this year.

However, Davis said via email that the decline in admissions has “had no effect on the overall quality of the applicant pool,” and promised that “the Class of 2007 is as diverse and academically talented as previous freshmen classes.”

As of July 3, 3,209 of the 6,334 students who were accepted had enrolled in the class of 2007. Davis indicated that a little more than 28 percent of these freshman had identified themselves as being “students of color.” These included African-Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians and Hispanic-Americans. This is a slight decrease from last year when minority students made up 33 percent of the incoming class.

Students will be traveling to Cornell from throughout the United States and from abroad. As usual, the lion’s share are from New York, with roughly 34 percent coming from in-state. New England and the Mid-Atlantic states are also well represented at 12 and 22 percents respectively. U.S. students from abroad account for a little less than one percent.

Speculation that current world events might negatively affect Cornell’s overseas recruitment has, thankfully, proven wrong, according to Davis.

“We have not seen a significant decline in applications from international students,” Davis reported. At 6.5 percent of the incoming class, the percentage of international students has actually increased.

“Given world events we have, however, worked more closely with international students to make sure that they understand the visa process,” Davis said. An emphasis was placed on starting the visa application process early so as to avoid delays in entering the country.

Other major changes in admissions this year included the end of one program, and the beginning of another.

In prior years, three of the seven colleges–Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Ecology–had admitted freshman to begin their college careers in January. These January freshman, known as -frosh” on campus, chose to spend their first semesters in a

variety of ways, sometimes studying at other institutions, other times,

traveling or working.

This year, the J-frosh program was eliminated. “We wanted all freshmen

students to enter in the fall,” Davis said, “so that they could

experience the full benefits of the freshmen fall orientation program.”

The new program implemented this year was electronic notification.

Whereas students once waited anxiously for their acceptance letters to

arrive by postal mail, checking admission decisions is now simply a

matter of going online for applicants. Online notification was

available last year on a limited scale, but this year expanded to all


The program hit a snag in late February when a staff clerical error

sent an e-mail to all 1,700 early decision applicants, welcoming them

to Cornell (including nearly 550 who had already been rejected).

“Greetings from Cornell, your future alma mater!” the e-mail letter

began. “Congratulations on your acceptance into the class of 2007!”

The mistake was quickly corrected, and the electronic notification

system was still “an overwhelming success,” Davis said.

Archived article by Courtney Potts