Thursday, July 4, 2013
Princeton Took 33 Students from The Waitlist for Class of 2017
At some area colleges and universities, more students than last year got that dream call: They were admitted off a waiting list.
Of eight schools polled, six - Princeton, Swarthmore, Haverford, Lehigh, Bucknell, and Delaware - took more students this year than in 2012.
For Princeton and Lehigh, it was a dramatic difference. Neither school used the waiting list last year; this year, Princeton took 33 students and Lehigh 65.
"It's always our goal to take some students off the wait list," said Janet Lavin Rapelye, dean of admission at Princeton, who said 25 of the 33 decided to enroll.
At Lehigh, 33 accepted the invitation.
In contrast, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova turned to their lists less often this year.
"It does not always happen, but our projections for yield" - the number of students who accept offers of admission - "came in very close to assumptions for the class," said Eric Furda, Penn's dean of admissions. "Each year is a bit different."
This year, Penn took 43 students off the list, 37 of whom accepted, Furda said. It took 87 last year. Penn, he said, used its list largely to guard against "summer melt" - students who decide over the summer not to attend.
Admissions officials say the year appears rather typical for waiting list activity. No policy changes, economic trends, or other factors drove numbers overwhelmingly up or down.
"My sense is this year was not a very big year for wait lists, at least within the cohort of schools Penn is competing with," Furda said. "There wasn't all that much movement."
Most colleges polled had seen larger waiting list numbers in one or more of the last six years.
In three of the six, Princeton accepted more students off its list than this year, the most - 164 - in 2010.
Across the region, many students were on edge, waiting to see if they would be invited to come off the list.
The annual process prolongs the angst for college-bound teenagers. Here's how it works: If a college has spots left after admitted students decide whether to enroll, it will go to the waiting list. Colleges typically move to the lists in early May, after the May 1 deadline for admitted students to respond. The process often continues through June.
Several schools polled just finished their waiting list activity in the last week.
Students send letters, record YouTube videos, fly across the country to hound admissions offices, circulate petitions, and bake cookies to get noticed, sometimes to no avail. Once colleges go to their lists, there is no telling how a student will fare. Some colleges tend not to rank those on the list but draw from it to fill their own needs.
"We look to see, do we have enough engineers? . . . Did the orchestra enroll the students they want? Do we need to look for a particular talent in an area?" Princeton's Rapelye said.
Princeton's 33 offers are a small proportion - roughly 5 percent - of the approximately 700-student list.
Villanova maintains separate waiting lists for its business, engineering, nursing, and arts and sciences schools. The university admitted 335 students from the lists, 193 of whom accepted, said Stephen R. Merritt, dean of enrollment management. That's down from 598 offers last year.
"What we did this year, to be very frank, we were a bit more aggressive in getting to students sooner," Merritt said, adding that Villanova also offered good financial aid packages to waiting list prospects. As a result, more students said yes early, and the university avoided going deeper into its list, he said.
Lehigh admitted fewer students during earlier decision rounds so it could use its waiting list, said Bruce Bunnick, director of admissions.
If a university fails to use its waiting list for a period of years, students will begin to question whether it offers a real chance at admission, Bunnick said. "It was nice to be able to use it," he said.
Haverford took 13, all of whom accepted. Thirteen is the most it has taken in six years, including 2009, when it also admitted 13.
Students who earn a spot on the list are fully qualified to be admitted, officials said.
"We're just so happy we could take some students this year," Rapelye said. "The students on the wait list are excellent students."