Acceptances up for 2012

Nathalie Tadena

While other top universities’ admissions became more selective, Northwestern’s admission rate bucked the trend this year by increasing.

Despite admitting more students, administrators said they expect next year’s freshman class to be roughly the same size as previous years.

This year, NU accepted 25.3 percent of applicants. A record number of students applied for admission to NU’s class of 2012, said Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollment.

NU received 25,027 applications, a 14 percent increase from last year, when 24.7 percent of applicants were accepted for the class of 2011.

Almost 500 more students were admitted this year. The total of 6,327 admitted students includes 561 admitted under early decision.

Last year, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Keith Todd told The Daily that NU expected 37 percent of admitted students to enroll. The class fell short of expectations, enrolling only 34 percent of those admitted.

Todd said the university preferred to admit fewer students because administrators could fill the class from the wait list. By admitting more students, NU would risk a housing shortage if too many of those admitted enrolled.

But even with more students admitted this year, a housing shortage is unlikely, said Mark D’Arienzo, associate director of university housing administration.

NU uses a statistical model to determine a target class size for housing purposes, Mills said. For the past three years, the target size for the incoming freshmen class has remained at 2,025.

The incoming class would need to yield an “extremely larger than expected” number of students for the Undergraduate Housing Office to experience difficulty finding space for new students, D’Arienzo said.

If more freshmen enroll at NU than anticipated, fewer transfer students will be accepted, Mills said.

Admitted students had the strongest SAT scores in university history, with an average of 1468 on the old 1600-point scale. More than 90 percent of admitted students were ranked in the top 10 percent of their class. This year’s admitted students have similar demographics to previous years, Mills said.

“NU is an institution that is very well thought of and has a good reputation nationally,” said Al Cubbage, vice president for university relations. “When students are applying to more universities, Northwestern is at the top of their list.”

NU has also adopted more aggressive admission outreach efforts, which have included more targeted visits across the country and increased interaction with high school counselors. Two years ago, NU flew in counselors from math and science high schools; this fall, NU plans to fly in counselors from public magnet schools, Mills said.

Mills attributes NU’s stronger applicant pool to personal outreach to promising high school students, such as those who perform well on their PSATs.

“We have gotten better at outreach to really talented high school students at early stages,” Mills said. “In some cases we’ll interact with a student for 18 months before they enroll at NU.”

While NU’s admission rate is slightly higher than last year, admission at other elite universities has been more selective compared to previous years. Harvard College accepted a record 7.1 percent of its applicants. Other schools also had record lows, from Yale University’s 8.3 percent acceptance rate to Georgetown University’s 18 percent.

Others schools might be more selective this year because more students are graduating from high school. Approximately 3.3 million students will graduate from high school this year, the largest senior class in two decades. More schools are also using the Common Application, enabling students to apply to multiple schools at the same time.

Since NU began accepting the Common Application for the class of 2011, applications have increased by about one-third.

Admitted students have until May 1 to accept or decline NU’s offer.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the increase in number of students admitted this year as well as the percentage of those admitted last year who came to NU.