November 3, 2005

Application Will Give Two College Choices

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Prospective freshmen will be allowed to apply to more than one Cornell college starting in fall 2007, University Council Chair Jay Waks ’68 announced in late last month. The decision, announced at a joint Trustees/Council weekend meeting, was made by the Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Office in collaboration with admissions officers and administrators from across the University.

Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, said, “The prime motivator in our adopting this new admissions plan was to better align our admissions policies with the realities of undergraduate educational life at Cornell and to further Ezra Cornell’s vision of ‘any person, any study.'”

Once the new policy is implemented, applicants will have the option of designating both a primary and a secondary school or college, but will not be required to do so, as some students have specialized interests. Students will receive only one official admissions decision and will only be admitted, waitlisted or denied to one college. Thus, applicants will not be admitted to two colleges and have the option of choosing between the two.

While the admissions office is at the beginning stages of implementing the new policy and is currently working on its details, its goals are clear, Davis said. As Cornell allows students to take classes in all colleges or schools and students are allowed to transfer from one college to another, the new admissions decision is an extension of opportunities the University gives to undergraduates.

“In adopting the primary/alternate college admissions plan, we acknowledge that Cornell applicants have diverse academic interests and that they are superbly qualified for admission to more than one undergraduate college or school at Cornell,” Davis said. “Our current admissions process allows students to apply to only one college, and that does a disservice to the incredible academic depth and range of our applicants.”

Jason Locke, director of the Undergraduate Admissions Office, does not believe the new policy will affect the quality of applicants, nor will it change the number of applicants or the composition of the applicant pool.

“This new policy simply recognizes the fact that many applicants to Cornell have intellectual interests that cross academic boundaries and we want to provide applicants with the opportunity to express their varied interests during the application process,” he said.

As applications to Cornell have increased 17 percent in the past year, the admissions office is not implementing the policy to increase numbers, Davis said.

Davis stressed similarities between Cornell’s new admissions policy and that of the University of Oxford, which also has multiple colleges and allows prospective students to apply to more than one.

“Like applicants to Oxford, [many] Cornell applicants present strong qualifications for admission to more than one college,” she said.

Jane Bessin ’79, chair of the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee of the Cornell Council, praised the University’s decision.

“Most students at 17 years old are unsure of their career goals and may not have the opportunity to visit campus,” she said. “Students might find that they can study [their field of interest] in several colleges. By allowing students to explore and examine two colleges, this provides them more opportunity. This policy allows students to achieve a better fit, with more opportunity to pursue their intellectual interests.”

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer