January 24, 2007

C.U. Sees Increase in Early Decision Apps

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Cornell received a total of 30,191 applications for admission to the Class of 2011, the undergraduate admissions office announced yesterday. This number represents an increase of 7.5 percent from last year and is a 45 percent increase from 2004.

Of these applications, 27,174 were for regular decision. Of the 3,017 early decision applications, the admissions office admitted 1,103 students or 36.6 percent of applicants. Students admitted under early decision fill a little over one-third of the incoming freshmen class.

Last academic year, 2,848 students applied early, of which 1,109 or 38.9 percent, were admitted.

According to the admissions office, applications were up among all racial and ethnic groups. Six of the seven undergraduate colleges also experienced an increase in applications, with the exception of the College of Human Ecology, which had a small decline.

Doris Davis, the associate provost for admissions and enrollment, was pleased with the admissions numbers.

“[The results] are great news — especially the fact that we’re up 45 percent since 2004,” she said. “Also noteworthy is that applications from students of color are up. This speaks directly to Cornell’s continued efforts to recruit and enroll a racially and ethnically diverse class.”

Cornell’s early admissions rate is higher than that of its peer schools.
Yale University accepted 19.7 percent of early admissions applicants, Harvard accepted 21.5 percent, Princeton 26 percent, the University of Pennsylvania 29 percent and Dartmouth 30 percent.

Early admissions programs came under recent scrutiny when Harvard, and later Princeton and the University of Virginia, announced that they would scrap early admissions for next year’s applicant pool.

In a previous interview with The Sun, Davis explained why many critics had begun to challenge the wisdom of early decision programs.

“Students who need to compare financial aid awards in order to decide where to enroll often do not apply early decision,” Davis said. “It also is true, however, that a student admitted early decision can be released from [their] agreement if the financial aid does not allow the student … to afford a Cornell education.”

Despite the provision in Cornell’s early decision program that protects early decision applicants who cannot afford a Cornell tuition, Provost Biddy Martin said that the University is always open to reforming its application process.

“We have been studying and discussing the effects of early decision for some time at Cornell,” Martin said previously. “Among other things, our admissions office has run focus groups of high school students in the New York City area to hear their thoughts and experiences with early decision.”
The University has given no indication that they will change their Early Decision policy.

A change that has recently occurred in Cornell admissions was the switch from a Cornell-specific application to the Common Application with a two-page supplement beginning with applications for the Class of 2009; however, it is unclear if this change directly affected the number of applicants.