Northwestern admits largest, most diverse early decision applicants

Ally Mutnick, Reporter

Northwestern admitted a record number of early decision applicants again this year, sending acceptance letters Thursday to 43 percent of the Class of 2017.

This is the highest percent of the freshman class NU has ever admitted early, up from 39 percent last year and 28 percent in 2010, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“We just had that many more students who we thought were qualified and that we wanted,” said Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions.

NU admitted 861 of the 2,651 students that applied — the highest number of early decision applicants yet. Those accepted, Watson said, boast the best test scores and grades of any early decision class.

Watson said the increase in early admittance was due to both more and better-quality applicants this year. The high number of early acceptances means fewer students will be admitted through the regular decision process, although Watson said he was not sure by how much.

Watson also called it the most diverse class of students admitted early. Last year, black, Hispanic and international students made up 17.1 percent of early decision students. This year, they make up 23.5 percent, according to the admissions office.

The early acceptance rate was 33 percent, the same as that of the Class of 2016, which saw fewer students admitted early but had a smaller applicant pool, according to the admissions office.The Class of 2017 saw a 7 percent increase in early decision applications from last year.

University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily last month that the spike in early decision applications did not surprise him. He attributed the application jump to NU’s increasing selectivity.

“When people take themselves off the Ivy (League) market and declare that this is their dream school, they should feel pretty good,” Schapiro said.

Jesse Kirsch, a high school senior from Livingston, N.J., was accepted early into Medill. Kirsch said he decided to apply early because he knew he loved NU’s strong academics and journalism program.

“I recognized the extremely low number of people that get admitted to Medill,” he said. “I didn’t want to put it to chance because I knew it was the program for me.”

Kirsch said he is excited about the large number of students admitted early because of the spirit they bring to campus.

“If you apply to a school and say unequivocally, ‘This is where I want to be,’ you are going to have a very enthusiastic study body,” he said. “You’re going to have a much more energetic feel on campus.”

Schapiro said NU had increased its early pool “remarkably” over the last few years, not just size but in diversity as well.

The class of 2017 will have about 60 scholars from QuestBridge, a non-profit that matches low-income students with scholarships at top-tier colleges and universities. Watson said this is the highest number yet.