Northwestern hits record number of early decision applications

Ally Mutnick, Reporter

It’s another record-breaking admission statistic for Northwestern.

The University reported an all-time high number of early decision applicants last week, with 2,625 students vying for a sport in the class of 2017 — a 7 percent increase from last year.

The number of early applicants has doubled since 2007, when 1,296 students applied. This is the seventh consecutive year NU has seen an increase in early decision applicants.

“I think we’re still a very popular school,” Undergraduate Admissions dean Christopher Watson said. “Students really from all over the country and all over the world are still looking at Northwestern in greater numbers than they had in the past.”

The University saw its greatest spike in early applications for the incoming class of 2015. Since then, the numbers have increased more slowly as the number of graduating high school students decreases nationwide, Watson said.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission expected the number of applicants to level off like at peer institutions. Duke University saw early decision applications decrease by 3 percent this year. Watson said Rice University saw fewer applications and Brown University’s increased very little.

“We were not expecting that at all,” Watson said. “We thought our ED apps might flatten out, so we were hoping for maybe a 3 or 4 percent increase.”

Alhough Watson said it was hard to say the exact reason behind the increase, he thinks NU’s recent notability has played a role. Watson pointed to the University’s recognition for its number of Fulbright Scholars, its groundbreaking research and success in the Teach For America program as particular contributors to increased media coverage of NU.

University admissions has also done increased high school visits in recent years to encourage students to apply. Watson said last year, the office visited 1,300 high schools — the highest number ever. In 2007 and before, he estimated admissions visited about 200 schools.

NU has also increased recruiting overseas. Watson said University President Morton Schapiro’s recent trips to foreign countries may have also helped increase applications from international students.

“It’s not just (increased attention) in the Midwest or Chicago area,” Watson said of NU’s reputation. “It’s spread around the country and around the world.”

McCormick freshman Jayden Morrison applied early for the class of 2016. He said in general he thought NU was becoming more well-known at his school in southern Ohio.

A few years ago at his high school, no one applied to NU, but five students did for the class of 2016.

“A lot of people know about it, but it’s becoming more and more popular as far as a place to apply,” Morrison said.  “I think it’s becoming more respected on an academic and athletic basis.”

Morrison said he decided to apply early because he was positive he wanted to go to NU, and he thought applying early would increase his chances.

Though he was the first from his school to apply early decision to NU, Morrison said he thought the increase in early applicants could be because others also want a better shot at admission.

“It’s becoming more competitive as far as the admission process goes,” Morrison said. “By doing early decision, you’re kind of showing the school that you’re really committed to going, and I feel like it can only help your chances.”

Medill freshman Haley Hinkle said not many of her classmates at her high school in northern Indiana had heard of NU before she applied.

Hinkle was a student in the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute in the summer of 2011. She said she fell in love with the campus and Medill during the program.

“I always feel like there is a strong sense of community here, and the people who go here just love it, and they are very enthusiastic about what they study,” Hinkle said. “It seemed like a natural choice to apply ED.”

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