April 9, 2007

C.U. Admissions Rate Drops by 4.2 Percent

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Naomi Forman, a high school senior from Newton, Mass., was ecstatic when she received her acceptance letter to Cornell. With the University’s acceptance rate hitting an all time low of 20.5 percent, such letters are harder to come by.
This past admissions season, Cornell received 30,382 applications from students across the world, of whom 6,229 were accepted, 3,223 were waitlisted and 18,419 were denied admission.
“Overall, it’s a highly talented group of students, as you might expect,” said Doris Davis, associate provost of admissions and enrollment. “As the information indicates, the academic quality of the students who were offered admissions to Cornell remains very high.”
The admissions rate is 4.2 percent lower than last year and 5.7 percent lower than two years ago. Additionally, Cornell saw an 8 percent increase in applications since last year and a 24 percent increase from two years ago.
48.2 percent of the admitted students were females and 51.8 percent were male, according to Davis. The mean SAT verbal score was 700 and the math mean score was 720. 92 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.
Many other Ivy League schools also reported their lowest admission rates in history, with four schools in the Ancient Eight admitting fewer than 10 percent of applicants. Columbia posted the lowest acceptance rate at 8.9 percent, followed by Harvard at 9 percent, Princeton at 9.5 percent, Brown at 14 percent, Dartmouth at 15 percent and the University of Pennsylvania at 15.9 percent. Yale’s admissions rate increased to 9.6 percent from a record low of 8.9 percent last year.
According to The New York Times, this year’s low admissions rates can be attributed to three trends. Firstly, children of baby boomers have been graduating from high school at record rates in recent years. Secondly, more high school students go directly to college instead of taking gap years after graduation, raising the number of applicants. Lastly, high school seniors are now applying to an increasing number of schools.
Many of Cornell’s admitted students were enthusiastic about their acceptance in a year of record-low acceptance rates.
“When I visited, I really liked the general atmosphere,” Forman said. “People seemed down to earth and they were having a good time. So I am coming back to visit before I make my final decision.”
Forman is also considering Dartmouth and Washington University in St. Louis.
With acceptance letters sent out on March 29, the next step in building the class of 2011 is Cornell Days. Beginning last Thursday and continuing until April 16, Cornell Days continue to bring herds of pre-freshmen and their families to campus to take another look at the University.
Students will sit in on classes, take tours, see residence halls, stay overnight and participate in special activities.
“We are expecting about 1,500 accepted students to come to Cornell Days and about 500 to stay overnight,” said Tom Noble ’08, co-chair of the Red Carpet Society, which sponsors the program along with Cornell Ambassadors and the Admissions Office.
Other events that will take place throughout the next 11 days include ice cream socials, free bowling at Helen Newman, visits to the Johnson Museum, lunch with various admissions ambassadors and other programs tailored specifically to the individual colleges.
Choosing a college is “a scary process, especially because so many students are so outstanding and have so many choices,” Noble said. “It’s nice to be able to come back and check [Cornell] out again. Many students make their decisions based on Cornell Days.”
Nikhil Arun, a high school senior from Redmond, Wash., said he had a good time during his visit to Cornell last weekend.
“I especially liked hanging out in the dorms,” Arun said. “I really got to see what life is like outside of all the tours and classes.”
Arun is choosing between Cornell, Northwestern, Duke, USC and Michigan.
Some in the Cornell community have expressed concern that the dreary weather forecast for the next week will discourage prospective students from enrolling in the University and affect the yield rate of admitted students. Cornell administrators, though, maintained that the weather would not play a significant role in the decisions of admitted students.
“I’ve heard people refer to the ‘weather machine’ for years,” said Reba McCutcheon, associate director for on-campus programs and visitor relations. “For some reason the weather during Cornell Days has a halo effect; people associate the program with bright and sunny days. Over the past several years it has been sunny, it has rained and it has even snowed. That said, I don’t think the weather will affect our yield in any significant way.”
Prospective students must make their decisions by May 1. Davis hopes that the class of 2011 will be made up of 3,050 students, which translates to an expected yield rate of 49 percent.