NU ushers in banner class, marks 15 percent acceptance rate

Jillian Sandler

It was a rough weekend for most applicants to Northwestern.

Just 15 percent of applicants for the Class of 2016 received an acceptance letter from the University, a record low admit rate for NU.

Northwestern released admissions decisions to most applicants Friday night. Early decision applicants found out their fates in December.

NU received 32,065 regular and early decision applications for the Class of 2016, the highest number the University has seen in its history. Of these, 4,895 students were accepted.

The University is anticipating 2,025 students for its freshman class, said Christopher Watson, NU’s dean of undergraduate admissions. Because 40 percent of these students were admitted as part of the early decision program, which binds students to attending NU if admitted, competition increased among regular decision applicants.

“We had far fewer slots available regular decision,” Watson said. “So the overall admit rate has dropped again.”

As NU’s application numbers have climbed in the past three years, admission rates have plummeted. The University admitted 27 percent of its total number of applicants to the Class of 2013, while admitting 23 and 18 percent to the Classes of 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Watson attributed the dropping admission rate to the increasing percentage of students who accept NU’s admission offer.

“We’re a popular school, and we seem to get more popular every year,” Watson said. “We’re trying really hard to increase our exposure nationally and internationally, and hopefully that’s paying off.”

This yield is reflected in the growing number of NU students who indicate the University was their first-choice school, President Morton Schapiro told the daily in January.

“We get about 60 percent of kids who say Northwestern was their first choice, and that’s good compared to a lot of schools,” Schapiro said.

Schapiro said creating more spots for early decision applicants brings more students to campus that viewed NU as their first choice school during the application process.

“Many more people wear purple, and they wear it and they’re very proud, and part of it is taking more kids early,” he said.

The rising yield also impacts the number of transfer students NU can admit, as Watson said this is partially contingent upon how many freshmen accept the University’s admission offer. He said the University aims to enroll between 100 and 150 transfer students every year but adjusts that number based on the size of the incoming freshman class.

“If more freshmen have enrolled than we anticipated, that leaves fewer spots for transfers,” he said. “If the opposite were to happen, we’d have more spots for transfer students.”

Watson said the number of transfer student applications has increased over the years in part due to the falling freshman acceptance rate at NU.

“We have admitted fewer students year to year, so there are a lot of students who wanted to come that we couldn’t admit that are trying again as transfer students,” he said.

Watson said admissions officers will start considering students off of the waitlist after the May 1 national response deadline.

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