Northwestern broke its previous record for the highest number of applications received this year, drawing 35,034 first-year applications.
Prospective students had to submit their Regular Decision applications to the University by Jan 1., adding an additional 32,012 applications to the already 3,022 students who applied Early Decision. The combination of Early Decision and Regular Decision applications went up 9 percent this year, said associate provost for university enrollment Michael Mills, and the University eclipsed its previous record set two years ago with 33,674 applications.
Mills said he expects the final acceptance rate to be about 11 percent. Mills attributes the higher application numbers to NU excelling in distinguishing itself from other schools.
“We have had a more focused message about what we think is unique about the undergraduate experience here at Northwestern,” Mills said. “We’re doing a better job of describing to people what makes studying here different from other places.”
In addition to establishing a new record in total first-year applications, the University also set new records in international student applications as well as Chicago Public Schools applications — receiving more than 5,000 and about 1,500 applications, respectively.
In December, Northwestern admitted 106 international students and twice as many Chicago Public Schools students as last year. During the Early Decision process, Mills said the school put an increased emphasis on underrepresented minority students, and it has continued to do so in the Regular Decision pool.
“I think part of that is being more inclusive and open,” Mills said. “We’ve done a nice job of making Northwestern a more inclusive place for students that have traditionally not been a part of the undergraduate population here.”
Mills also noted a spike in students who applied for the new neuroscience major at Northwestern. The University debuted the neuroscience program last Fall Quarter.
“In terms of majors, the new neuroscience major has played some part in this year’s increase,” Mills said. “We are seeing a lot of interest in the neuroscience major.”
The University has already filled more than 50 percent of the class of 2020 with Early Decision applicants, who were notified of their admission decision in December.
Mills said with the record-breaking number of applications and the anticipated acceptance rate of about 11 percent, it will be difficult to evaluate the Regular Decisions applications.
“In terms of evaluating, we are doing that right now,” Mills said. “It’s going to be really difficult to make those choices this year because there are so many great kids.”