January 24, 2008

Students Apply to C.U. in Record Numbers

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The Early Decision numbers are in, and some 1,142 boys and girls from across the world are now legally bound to the Hill.
However, according to a report issued to the Sun by the Undergraduate Admissions Office, 29,560 Cornell applicants are still awaiting regular decision letters. This is the largest group of applicants in Cornell history.
Between both Early and Regular Decision, the University received 32,655 applications, an increase of 8 percent from last year, and a 58 percent increase from 2004, according to Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment. Applications went up for all undergraduate colleges.
Taking into account the number of accepted students last year, a Daily Sun blog predicted this year’s total acceptance rate to be approximately 18 percent. This would be a drop from last year’s 20.5 percent. However, Davis declined comment on the accuracy of this estimation.
“We won’t know the admit rate until after all admissions decisions are rendered,” Davis stated.
Of those accepted Early Decision, 53 percent are male, 47 percent are female. In regard to the quality and diversity of this year’s applicants, Davis declined comment.
“It is still too early to provide any specific information about the applicants,” Davis stated.
Although application numbers went up for Early Decision, the Early Decision acceptance rate also went up. 36.9 percent of those who applied early were accepted, compared to the 36.6 percent Early Decision acceptance rate last year.
The increase in Early Decision acceptance rates raises the question of whether Cornell is placing a higher priority on Early Decision applicants. Students accepted Early Decision will make up 37 percent of the Class of 2012, according to the Undergraduate Admissions Office.
Other universities, such as Harvard and Princeton, have eliminated the Early Decision option altogether.
“The college admissions process has become too pressured … We hope that doing away with early admission will improve the process and make it simpler and fairer,” said Harvard Interim President Derek Bok in a 2006 Harvard Gazette article.
“Early admission programs tend to advantage the advantaged … Students from more sophisticated backgrounds and affluent high schools often apply early to increase their chances of admission,” Bok said.
However, Davis defended Cornell’s Early Decision program.
“We equally value early decision and regular decision applicants; we continue to monitor the percentage of the freshman class that is admitted via the early decision process,” Davis stated.
After the regular decision Ivy League mailing date on March 31, Cornell will attempt to entice already accepted students to attend the University.
According to Tom Noble ’08, co-chair of the Red Carpet Society which organizes Cornell Days — a 10-day visitation period in which accepted students stay overnight with Cornell students — this year’s applicants have already contacted the University about visiting. There is “definitely a big interest from the Early Decision accepted students,” Noble said.
Robert Toha, who was accepted Early Decision into the College of Arts and Sciences, does not plan on attending Cornell Days, but expects that it will help prospective students “learn about the course curriculum and general information about the school,” Toha said.
Meanwhile, the Red Carpet Society is busy preparing for the Spring visitation period.
“We’ve been having Cornell Days Planning Committee meetings since November … After the regular hosting program ends in early March, our entire focus will go toward getting ready for Cornell Days,” Noble said.
Last year, more than 1,400 students visited the campus during Cornell Days. Noble expects those numbers to increase this year.
“The Nor’easter that hit in April last year hit during the second weekend of Cornell Days and caused a lot of cancellations. Weird, because the Cornell Weather Machine usually helps us out and we get beautiful weather for Cornell Days. Anyway, we expect similar numbers to 2006, when had over 1,700 visiting students,” Noble said.
In addition to Cornell Days, the University is planning “a few new initiatives this year,” according to Davis. More information will be provided after Regular Decision letters are issued.