Thursday, November 10, 2011

Princeton Received 3,547 SCEA Applications for Class of 2016

Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye announced on Wednesday that 3,547 students applied to Princeton’s single-choice early action program, the University’s first early admission pool since 2006.
“I had no expectations about the number of applications we would receive,” University President Shirley Tilghman said in an email.  “The number is significantly larger than our prior early decision pool, so, in that sense, I am pleased.”
Princeton had a binding early decision policy from 1996-2006, but canceled the program in an effort to make the admission process more fair and equitable, hoping that peer institutions would follow suit. Harvard had also canceled its early admission policy at the time. Last February, however, both Princeton and Harvard announced that they would institute a new single-choice early action program to applicants for the Class of 2016 that would allow accepted students to make their final decisions in the spring.
“We’re going into early action with a fresh perspective,” Rapelye said.
She discouraged making comparisons to the 2006 early decision application process in which the University received 2,275 applications and admitted 597 students.
“The world of college admissions has changed since then,” she said. “There are about a million more students graduating from high school now than in 1992.”
The early application deadlines of many peer institutions — including Boston University, the University of Vermont and all the Ivy League Universities — were pushed back by as much as a week this year to accommodate for the effects of the Northeast snowstorm two weeks ago, which left millions without electricity.  Princeton extended its deadline to Nov. 5.
At this point, Dartmouth is the only other Ivy League university to have reported its early applicant pool of 1,800.  In comparison, Duke received 2,716 applications and Johns Hopkins reported 1,440 applications for their binding early decision programs, according to the New York Times. Harvard is expected to report its application numbers next week. Other peer institutions’ early admission deadlines are Nov. 15.
There were several concerns surrounding the previous early decision policy, including that it put minority and economically underprivileged students at a disadvantage — particularly since the binding feature of the policy prevented students from comparing financial aid packages. In a 2006 press release about the single admission policy, Tilghman said, “We agree that early admission ‘advantages the advantaged.’ ” In the intervening years, the admission department has made multicultural diversity a high priority, with the Class of 2014 including the most students from minority backgrounds in the University’s history.
Though the admission department has yet to analyze the demographics of applicants by ethnicity, gender and other categorizations such as legacies and athletes, Rapelye said she saw a “healthy diversity” in the applicant pool and is pleased with the “very strong” quality of candidates.
“We will be watching very closely to ensure that we do not lose this diversity going forward,” Tilghman said. “Until we have gone through a couple of admission cycles with early action, I don’t think we will know if we have to increase our outreach to new schools.”
Princeton’s applicant pool has increased by 98.5 percent over the last eight years, according to Rapelye.
She noted, however, that this trend and the number of early applications is not necessarily a predictor of increases in the regular decision pool this year — the pool may actually become smaller.
“We should start seeing a slowing down in the rate of growth in the pool due to the leveling off of the high school population in this country,” Rapelye explained.

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