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Early 2009 applicants impress

Claire Heininger | Thursday, January 13, 2005

With its Dec. 31 application deadline past, the Office of Admissions now turns its attention to shaping the Notre Dame Class of 2009 -which, thanks to 2,800 early action applicants, is already coming into focus.That number is 200 applicants lower than last year, but this year’s early action group is academically stronger than past applicant pools, Director of Admissions Dan Saracino said. And while the admissions office is still counting regular decision applications, he said, and therefore still “guessing” what the final applicant pool will look like, early action offers a preliminary picture. Of the 1,362 applicants who were admitted under early action – the remaining 1,438 were denied or deferred to the regular decision pool – 17 percent are ethnic minorities, Saracino said.”That should transfer into a total of 22 or 23 percent when the dust settles come May,” he said, which is consistent with the Class of 2007’s 21 percent and the Class of 2008’s 22 percent ethnic minority representation.Like the regular decision group, distinctions such as ethnic minority status stand out in the early applicant pool, where a solid academic record alone may not be enough, Saracino said.”We kind of raise the bar a little bit with early action,” he said.Only about 200 of those who cleared that bar this year have decided to attend Notre Dame, Saracino said. But that figure is typical for this early stage in the admissions cycle, he said, adding that a rush of confirmations usually takes place when financial aid packages are offered in late March.”The students who are going to confirm with us before April 1 are the students [for whom] money’s not a big concern – ROTC scholarships, athletes,” Saracino said.Like regular decision applicants, early action applicants have until May 1 to confirm enrollment.The luxury of more time to decide on a college – more than four months, since they are informed whether or not they will be offered admission by Dec. 20 – is one advantage early action applicants enjoy, Saracino said.That service to students is the reason Notre Dame has always offered non-binding early action instead of binding early decision, he said, and will not convert to early action-single choice, a new option offered by Harvard, Yale and Stanford Universities beginning last year.”They’re saying, basically, ‘look, if we’re going to go through the trouble of reading your file in November when it’s really, really busy, we don’t want to go through the trouble unless you’re telling us we’re your first choice,” Saracino said. “And my feeling is kind of, well, tough. So, you have to work a little harder to review files … Notre Dame is fortunate in that doing the right thing [by offering open early action] is, to me, a no-brainer.”

Maddie Hanna contributed to this report.