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Early action applicants increase

Rohan Anand | Friday, January 19, 2007

Christmas arrived early for approximately 1,340 high school seniors worldwide who applied to join the Notre Dame class of 2011. These individuals were among the 35 percent of candidates selected from a pool of 3,812 applications considered for Early Action Admission by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions this winter.

Prospects who received their acceptance letters early, like Tanner Ryan of Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, were elated to receive notification a few months earlier than their regular decision counterparts.

“Though I was anxious to receive my decision letter, I was relieved to know I was accepted somewhere great with plenty of time to decide,” he said.

Under Notre Dame’s non-binding Early Action admissions procedure, high school seniors must submit a completed application to the University by Nov. 1, and can expect a notification of either admit, defer, or deny by Dec. 1.

1,575 applications – or 41 percent of the pool – were denied admission, and 680 were deferred to the regular decision round. Students admitted under Early Action have until May 1 to notify the University if they plan to attend or not.

The Undergraduate Admissions committee was shocked to see the surge in applications, 1,200 more than last year, which caused the selectivity rate to drop from about 1/2 for the class of 2010 to around 1/3 for 2011, said Director of Admissions Operations Bob Mundy.

“Certainly the increase in applications indicates our rise in popularity and is positive for the institution,” he said. “Unfortunately, the things we measure tend to be very statistical information like SATs and class ranking, so it becomes harder to gain admission.”

From this year’s application pool, the average class rank of each accepted applicant was within the top 3 percent, up from 3.7 percent last year. The average SAT score was 1442 (sans the writing component) up from 1420 last year, and average ACT score was 32.7, up from 32.4.

Additionally, approximately 190 valedictorians, 69 salutatorians, and 22 students with perfect test scores were admitted. Legacy students also comprised about 20 percent of the admitted group.

At this point, the admissions committee is still in the process of tallying the number of applications submitted for the regular decision round. Mundy projects that while the number of applications for Early Action consideration went through the roof, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be same for regular action.

“There’s still plenty of uncertainty that exists in Early Action in that we ask, ‘does it have any bearing on the numbers for regular action?'” he said. “Last year, Early Action numbers were down, but regular action numbers rose by about 1,500, so it’s never quite clear. Still, we do project that regular apps will be up to some degree.”

Despite the fact that Notre Dame’s ranking in the “2006 US News and World Report” dropped slightly, the University did receive several other recognitions that may have boosted the rise in applicants.

“Newsweek-Kaplan College Guide” nominated Notre Dame as the “Hottest Legendary School,” among 25 other schools listed, while “Business Week” ranked the Mendoza School of Business as the No. 3 undergraduate business school in the nation.

Katherine Novinski, a senior at the Hockaday School in Dallas, was moved to apply early because Notre Dame has “an ingrained spirit and tradition” that she was looking for in her college selection criteria.

“I know I wanted good academics, a sense of family and community, and spirituality,” she said. “It’s one of my top choices right now, and the final decision will come down to scholarship and financial aid.”

Undergraduate Admissions Counselor Beth Giudicessi attributes the rise to many factors, ranging from the baby boom to the University’s strong academic caliber becoming more widespread.

“Most importantly, I think our team of fifteen members traveling worldwide telling the ND story is what really draws our candidates,” she said. “It’s less of a recruitment process and more of informing students about Notre Dame, and they make the decision on their own.”

The University was also very proactive in attracting more minority students to campus. The number of admitted multicultural students from Asian, African American, Latino, and Native American backgrounds grew nine percent from 230 last year to 253. Twenty-two international students were also offered admission.

“We spent a lot more time visiting students from schools that we haven’t seen before,” said Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Son Nguyen. “For instance, we gave special attention to an inner city school in Camden, New Jersey, because we felt that if an underrepresented school had some potential for ND, we would let them know more about the school.”

Other highly selective schools – such as the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Northwestern – recently adopted the common application as a tactic to increase the number of minority applicants. Though the Notre Dame Admissions Committee deliberated as to whether they should use the Common Application in lieu of Notre Dame’s customized one, they opted not to.

“Students who want to go to Notre Dame will fill out our applications, which indicates that they’re putting in the extra effort because Notre Dame is important to them,” said Nguyen. “Without the Common App, we’re still getting many prospects a and high yield, showing that many people want to be here.”

Usually, admitted Early Action candidates comprise about 25 percent of each incoming freshman class. Until the May 1 deadline, however, much is left to be done with Early Action admits. Financial award packages will be mailed in March, and shortly after will come Spring Visitation weekend to host admitted minority students.

For now, high school seniors like James McKee, also a student at Dallas Jesuit, are happy with where they stand and will wait a few more weeks before they know for sure where they are headed.

“I’m still waiting to hear from my other top choice, Duke University,” he said. “But even if I’m accepted there, I still might want to attend Notre Dame because I know so many people who are going there. We’ll just have to see.”