University releases early acceptances
Kayla Mullen | Thursday, January 28, 2016
When the University of Notre Dame released its Restricted Early Action acceptances to 1,610 students this past December, something was notably different — rather than issuing their usual blue and gold acceptance letters, Notre Dame welcomed students home with a celebratory web page, Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment Donald Bishop said.
“The year before, in regular action, we found the U.S. mail service has become less dependable on timing — they’re getting there, but they’re taking longer,” Bishop said. “ … Students now post on their social media network that they were admitted, they text each other, they communicate in so many ways. Nowadays, students are announcing their decision, and other kids are waiting for the mail, so we literally had hundreds of anxious calls, worried that they didn’t get a letter or that they assumed they were turned down since they didn’t get a letter right away.
“It created a lot of anxiety, so with the U.S. mail service not as consistent, we talked to students … about this. They said, ‘Look, everybody else does it electronically, and while it is great to have the Notre Dame surprise in the mail, it’s more humane to let us know right away.’”
Students embraced the new method of releasing decisions, Bishop said.
“The time at which the decision became available was 6:42 p.m., which is 18:42 and we were founded in 1842, so we tried to be a little clever,” Bishop said. “The vast majority of students opened their decision within the first hour.”
The Admissions department accepted 1,610 students from the 5,340 students who applied for Early Action, Bishop said. However, receiving an Early Action acceptance from Notre Dame is as difficult, if not more difficult, than being accepted during the Regular Decision period, Bishop said.
“We have Early Action to give students the most freedom of final choice, so while if they get in here early, they still have the freedom of choice,” Bishop said. “If we are willing to give them that freedom — we are not forcing an agreement from them like the Early Decision program — therefore, Notre Dame should not make it easier to get in if you apply early.
“The process, when all the Early Action applications are in, we review the whole group. We try to make the same admissions decision whether you apply early or regular.”
Of the students accepted in Early Action, 46 percent are from public schools, 41 percent from Catholic schools and 13 percent from private and charter schools, Bishop said. The students represent 47 states and the District of Columbia and 31 different nations, Bishop said.
“There’s more diversity — geographical diversity, more ethnic diversity,” Bishop said. “We also have a rise in the top percent of the pool — it’s more dynamic.”
Applications were up 21 percent this year, Bishop said. Bishop traced this to the implementation of new recruiting programs.
“We have done, in the last four years, we have built a new model of recruitment, with earlier contact,” Bishop said. “We invested in a new customer relations software, and we are starting to use that in a more personalized way, in more contact with our prospect pool — better relationship development.”
Bishop said he also believed this rise to be due to the message and spirit of Notre Dame, he said.
“We have a value-centered approach, not just to selection but also how students are selecting us — we talk about coming to Notre Dame and not just being at a top 15 college in selectivity, but being at a school where you’re going to make a difference in the world, where you’re going to be a force for good,” Bishop said.
“We talk a lot about the philosophy of Notre Dame, not just the quality of Notre Dame. It’s that added on philosophy of service to others and, if you will, the ‘goodness’ factor that some group of students really find compelling and they trust that. They believe that Notre Dame is very unique in that, and Notre Dame becomes their only school.”