February 15, 2005

Applications Jump At C.U.; Fall at Yale

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Cornell’s applicant pool jumped over 15 percent, new statistics show. According to numbers released by the admissions office, Cornell’s undergraduate colleges received 24,114 applications for next fall’s freshman class, which is a 16.2 percent increase from last year.

The increase in applications spanned all colleges, geographic regions and under-represented minority groups.

According to the Office of Admissions and Enrollment and the Image Committee of the Student Assembly, there are a number of factors that may have positively impacted Cornell’s desirability.

Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, contends that the redesigned view book, combined with ongoing efforts to coordinate recruitment communication, were powerful tools in recruiting applicants.

“Over the past year in particular, we have spent lots of time thinking about the Cornell messages and themes that we wanted to share with prospective students, and we’ve thought about how we want to convey these messages,” she said.

“The new view book is the result of these efforts, and we have turned our attention to other brochures, and to our website.”

Davis also noted that this sort of “enhanced communication” is occurring at both university and college levels at Cornell.

According to Peter S. Cohl ’05, chairman of the Image Committee, the university’s new website — which was redesigned in consultation with the committee — is another factor that helped convey a more attractive message to applicants this year.

According to Cohl, traffic has increased significantly since the new website was launched last year.

“The schools in the Ivy League whose applications went up significantly each re-did their websites,” he said.

In addition to new communication strategies, Davis says that the university’s membership to the Common Application group made applying to Cornell this year much easier than in years past.

The Common Application group includes over 250 colleges and universities that have each agreed to use a common application in their admissions process.

“The Common Application allows institutions to reach more students, and it allows students who are applying to multiple institutions to reach more students, and it allows students who are applying to multiple institutions to streamline the application process,” she explained.

According to Davis, a total of five Ivy League schools joined the Common Application group this year: Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Seven out of eight of the Ivy League schools increased their applicant pools this year.

Princeton received a record 16,077 applications, increasing its pool by 17 percent.

Yale was the only Ivy League university that experienced a decline in total applications.

However, according to The Yale Daily News, admissions officers are not too concerned about this year’s drop.

“We have to put this all into context,” said Richard Shaw, dean of admissions at Yale. “Numbers don’t make the institution. There’s a huge mistake in assuming that because A went up five percent, B went up 10 percent and C went down that C is falling from grace. That’s just not true. These trends go up and down.”

Shaw was also quick to cite the impressive number of applications Yale received last year.

“If it was a precipitated drop I’d worry, but we had a record high last year,” he said.

According to Cohl, Yale was the only Ivy League university that did not redesign its website last year.

“Yale’s website has been unchanged for a number of years,” he said. “The undergraduate admissions website is discordant with the university’s over all image.”

If Cornell does not change the number of admissions it extends, the increased application pool would alter the selectivity of the undergraduate colleges. Because selectivity is one of the criteria used to rank undergraduate universities, many expect Cornell’s overall ranking to improve next year in many polls.

According to Cohl, entering a new selectivity class might even put Cornell “within striking distance of the top ten.”

“There is no reason Cornell cannot be a top five school,” he said.

Archived article by Ellen Miller
Sun Senior Writer