Northwestern’s class of 2014’s acceptance rate drops 4 percent to record low

Stephanie Stack

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Northwestern’s acceptance rate fell to 23 percent this year, a record low, as application totals rose across the country.

The acceptance rate dropped from 27 percent in 2009, according to University data. A record 27,615 students applied to NU, up 2,246 applications from 2009.

Applications increased across the country. Harvard University was the most selective school for the class of 2014, accepting only 6.9 percent of its applicants, a record low for the school. Princeton University, Yale University and Stanford University all admitted less than 9 percent of applicants, according to The New York Times.

NU admitted 50 more students with its early decision program this year, said Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment. Through early decision, students apply by Nov. 1 and commit to attend NU if accepted. The school also deferred some applicants, eventually admitting 15 of them, Mills said.

“In total, we had 65 more admits through early decision than last year,” he said. “A lot of our peers were up in early decision.”

NU has spent the last seven to eight years marketing the school’s strengths to a broader audience, said Al Cubbage, University spokesman.

“I think we’ve done that,” he said. “This is a place that is somewhat unusual in that it offers a broad range of choices in a relatively small undergraduate school. Our different schools are tremendous all across the board, which is a unique situation for a school of our size.”Incoming freshman Lucy Liu said NU’s flexibility drew her to the school.

“I think I am going to be pre-med, but I might want to possibly minor in music,” the high school senior from Germantown, Md., said. “I like how I don’t have to be in the music school to do that.”

The University is continuing to expand its efforts to target high-ability, low-income students, Mills said.

In 2009, NU became a member of Expanding College Opportunities, a Stanford research project, Mills said. Most high-ability, low-income students do not apply to selective colleges. The project aims to identify why these students do not apply to these schools and provide them with free college counseling.

“One slice of outreach has to do with trying to broaden our appeal to minority students,” Mills said.

This year, NU rehired Antonia Garcia, who took leave in 2007 to pursue her master’s degree at Harvard. As senior assistant director for undergraduate admission, Garcia will develop relationships with the community-based organizations that focus on college access for low-income and minority students.

University President Morton O. Schapiro brings liberal arts experience to the University, Mills said, which may draw prospective students.

“I have no doubt that Morty will be an asset when it comes to generating more applications,” he said. “You take a major research university and you hire someone who’s led one of the best small liberal arts colleges. It’s an intriguing combination. And I think over time that will influence our reputation in a pretty powerful way.”