Some elite colleges experiencing application decrease

Meghan Morris

Although most universities – including Northwestern – continued their upward trend in application numbers for the class of 2016, some elite universities experienced a decline in applications, according to recently released numbers.

While application data is not yet available for all schools, Northwestern’s 3.5 percent increase – the ninth straight year of increased applications – was matched by comparable institutions. The University of Notre Dame experienced a 2.7 percent rise and Dartmouth College applications increased by 3 percent.

“Every year the percentage of high school students who apply to college increases, but there aren’t that many new positions at the colleges,” said Lesley Miller, the director of College Consulting Inc. in Chicago.

There were some notable exceptions to the general increase, such as Columbia University, where applications fell 8.9 percent compared to last year. U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia fourth on its Best College 2012 list. Applications also fell 1.7 percent at the University of Pennsylvania, which is ranked fifth. Northwestern is currently ranked number 12 on the list.

Jessica Marinaccio, Columbia’s dean of undergraduate admissions, said in a statement the school received 31,818 applications for the class of 2016, close to NU’s 31,991 applications. Marinaccio attributed the decrease to Harvard University and Princeton University’s reinstatement of nonbinding early action programs, which both universities ended in 2006 and brought back this fall.

Other schools’ application rates rose sharply: The University of Chicago experienced a 16.1 percent increase and schools in the University of California system grew as well. The University of California, Berkeley increased 16.5 percent, and University of California, Los Angeles went up 18 percent.

NU spokesman Al Cubbage told The Daily last week the pool of applicants to NU and similar schools grows both bigger and stronger every year.

“We’re right up there with Harvard and Stanford and other really top schools in terms of the number of applications,” he said. “We are among the top schools in the country for private, major research universities.”

Harvard has not yet released regular decision application data for the class of 2016. Stanford’s application rate rose nearly 7 percent, to 36,744 applications.

Darcy Clark, a senior at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, said she expected an increase in applications as students apply to more schools. Clark applied regular decision to Medill and seven other journalism and liberal arts schools around the country.

“It makes me a little nervous because Northwestern was already a little bit of a reach to begin with, but that’s the way the college application process goes,” Clark said. “Once you hit submit, it’s out of your hands.”

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