January 30, 2004

Cornell Accepts Early Applicants; High School Seniors Breath Relief

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While Yale and Stanford Universities have switched from early decision to early action this year, Cornell’s early decision program remains strong, according to statistics released by the Undergraduate Admissions Office (UAO).

Although the number of early decision applications is down from last year, the results are more consistent with previous years, according to Jason Locke, director of the UAO. Cornell received 2,550 applications this year, compared with 2,729 last year. Of the early applicants, 1,119 — or 44 percent — were accepted for the class of 2008. These students will comprise approximately 36 percent of the final incoming class.

“Although we saw slightly fewer early decision applications, the quality of the admitted group, as measured by SAT scores, was stronger than last year,” Locke said. “Diversity as measured by representation of gender, race and geography remained about the same as previous years.”

The group of students already accepted to the incoming class is 48 percent female and 52 percent male. About 7.7 percent of the students are underrepresented minorities on campus. As has been the case in the past, New York students make up a large percentage of the admitted group, at 37 percent, and 25 percent hail from the Mid-Atlantic region.

While the regular decision applications are in the process of being reviewed, Locke says the preliminary number of these applications is up by approximately two percent overall.

“This will be another year of difficult decisions,” Locke said. “The strength of the applicant pool continues to grow which makes for some very difficult admissions decisions.”

Cornell has the highest rate of acceptance in the Ivy League, although generally admission into the University is more competitive for regular than early applicants. Locke believes that the increase in applications will yield positive results, and is largely a result of improved recruitment tactics.

“Applications to our largest college, the College of Arts & Sciences are up significantly — close to eight percent — which is due, in part, to an aggressive recruitment strategy this year. Overall, we saw application increases in almost every region of the country. We are also seeing an increase in applications from underrepresented minority students this year. This is undoubtedly due to the hard work of student ambassador groups like CU Image.”

This year also marks the first year that Cornell will not participate in programs that admit January freshmen or mid-year freshmen. The midyear freshmen, often referred to as “J-frosh,” consisted of students who were removed from the waiting list and offered a place for the spring semester. That practice only involved students in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Ecology. January freshmen either enrolled later or deferred and began their studies in the spring.

According to Stephen Friedfeld, assistant dean of admissions and academic advising in the College of Arts & Sciences, these programs originally began as an effort to fill dorm rooms on West Campus that had been vacated by students studying abroad, graduating early or leaving for other reasons during the spring semester. However, recent changes in living arrangements and the transfer of all freshmen housing to North Campus make these programs unnecessary.

According to Friedfeld, the housing committee closed off rooms for the fall semester last year, only to open them for January and mid-year freshmen. The committee realized it was more practical to target a slightly larger class for the fall than to continue the spring admission programs.

Lara Dunn ’04 approved of the termination of the programs. Although she needed the semester off and enjoyed her experience, she said many of her friends who were also “J-frosh” wished they could have been admitted with the other freshmen.

“Maybe it should be a choice,” she said. “There are advantages and disadvantages, but I think most people wanted to start in the fall.”

Archived article by Stephanie Baritz