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Accepted students shatter records

Rohan Anand | Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The selectivity rate for Notre Dame’s Class of 2011 broke school records this year with a surge of 1,700 more applicants vying for spots in the freshman class.

A total of 14,501 high school seniors – including those who had applied for Early Action – submitted applications for consideration, said Dan Saracino, director of undergraduate admissions.

With such a boost in the size of the applicant pool, the selectivity rate dropped to 23 percent – four percent lower than last year’s 27 percent acceptance rate. While Saracino said he was “proud of the applicant pool,” he said it was difficult to deny more students this year, since Notre Dame does not plan to increase the undergraduate population. The projected class size of 1,985 students will stay the same for next year.

“We made a lot of students happy these past few days,” he said. “But when we have 1,700 more students to [evaluate] this year, and not any more are being admitted, then we have 1,700 more students to deny.”

On Monday, the Undergraduate Admissions Office was flooded with phone calls and e-mails from discouraged applicants who had not received admission, Saracino said. While he said the majority of them were probably qualified to study at Notre Dame, an intensely competitive applicant pool made that impossible.

“The situation is not whether or not [the candidate] could do the work at Notre Dame, but rather that it’s a very self-selecting group, and we only have limited spaces to fill,” he said.

To demonstrate the degree of truth to this statement, Saracino said approximately 868 applicants ranked first in their high school class and could have comprised more than 40 percent of the admitted freshman class. Still, only 427 of them were offered spots.

The average SAT score -with the combined Math and Critical Reading sections – was 1414, and the average ACT score was a 32.5. The average high school class rank was in the top 4.2 percent of the applicant’s class. Fifty-two admitted students also had perfect test scores, and 484 scored above a 1500 on the SAT, 23 percent of them being children of alumni.

“But we’re not just looking at numbers,” Saracino said, “and we’re also not trying to brag. We looked at the whole picture of each candidate: academic rigor, passion and traits that they could bring here. We do this because we want to create a diverse, talented and exciting student body.”

Additionally, the University hopes to enroll a class that consists of 25 percent ethnic minorities and three to four percent international students from 29 other countries, making it the most ethnically diverse in the history of the University.

Saracino mentioned the difficulty of enrolling more international students because it’s harder to provide them with enough financial aid to attend the University.

“However, we’re still meeting every need of all domestic students by 100 percent, and there aren’t too many universities that can do that,” he said. “It permits greater socioeconomic diversity.”

The most highly represented states in the class include Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Florida and New Jersey.

While the University saw a swell in applications, other highly select top-20 schools generally hail a greater number of applicants each year – often surpassing 20,000 – even if their freshman class size is relatively similar to Notre Dame’s.

Saracino speculated that the University receives 6,000 fewer applications not because it is less renowned than other institutions, but because most applicants apply to Notre Dame as their first choice and not a safety school.

“We’re only one of 10 schools in the United States that admit less than 50 percent of the applicants and yield more than 50 percent of them,” he said. “When students apply to Notre Dame, they’re not fishing for schools – Notre Dame is actually one of their top choices, instead of third or fourth like the other schools with bigger pools. The majority of those who decline our admissions offers do so because of finding better financial aid elsewhere.”

And as far as yield is concerned, the Undergraduate Admissions committee is using the wait list more heavily this year than last by admitting 114 fewer students than it did initially with the Class of 2010. This way, the University hopes to avoid the overfill problem that happened last year and give some attention to students on the wait list.

“There are some really outstanding students on the waiting list who want to be a part of this place,” Saracino said. “So we’re hoping that we can open up some spots for them.”