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University admits 3,446 to class of 2025, sets record-low acceptance rate

| Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The University announced Friday it admitted 1,771 students to the class of 2025 during the regular decision process. With 1,673 students admitted during the restrictive early action (REA) process in December, the University admitted a total of 3,446 students out of 23,639 applicants for a record-low acceptance rate of 14.6%.

Of the 1,712 deferred students from REA, 145 were accepted as part of the regular decision admitted pool. Represented among the total applicant pool were 8,030 high schools. Among admitted students, 2,175 high schools were represented.

Associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment Don Bishop said the COVID-19 pandemic made this year’s admission process challenging for both admissions officers and prospective students.

Due to health concerns and questions about international students’ ability to obtain visas in 2020, the University enrolled 365 students off of the waitlist and into the class of 2024. Bishop said they do not anticipate accepting as many students from the waitlist this year, however, because there is less uncertainty about the upcoming academic year than the last.

Nonetheless, some lingering uncertainty about the fall semester and the pandemic has led the University to place 3,101 students on this year’s waitlist, making it one of the largest in recent years, according to Bishop.

“With the uncertainty, we felt that we should do more waitlists in case we need more spots to be taken,” Bishop said. “Right now, our model tells us that between 50 to 120 students will most likely be taken off the waitlist in early May.”

With extracurricular activities limited or taking place virtually at high schools across the world, evaluating applicants proved to be challenging this year, Bishop said. But some of the applicants have taken up unique activities.

“Reading the applications this year, we found that students did find ways to reach out and some of that was ingenious,” he added.

Bishop said the inability of prospective students to visit the Notre Dame campus due to the pandemic was another obstacle for the University. However, the admissions team increased their virtual outreach and recruitment efforts and tried to have more personalized contact with prospective students.

Despite indications of a national decrease in the number of first-generation and low-income college applicants, the University saw an increased number of low-income applicants. Due to limited accessibility to standardized tests this year, the University did not require students to submit standardized test scores. Bishop credited this decision for allowing more low-income students to apply.

“One of the inherent benefits of test-optional is that it did encourage some students to apply who might otherwise not have applied,” he said. “We had an increase of about 500 students from lower-income households that had very high class performance.”

Earlier this semester, the University announced it will be continuing the test-optional policy in 2022 and 2023. Bishop said the tests have been valued less over recent years and the University was considering implementing a test-optional policy before the pandemic.

Bishop said about 48% of this year’s admitted students are international students or U.S. students of color. As part of the 11.1% increase in total applications, there was a 9% increase in international applications. From the pool of admitted international students, 291 require an I-20 visa, 61 more than last year’s total. 

Considering dual citizens, U.S. citizens living abroad and students from other countries with a permanent residence in the U.S., about 20% of this year’s accepted students have global connections, Bishop said.

Bishop said the admissions committees noticed a greater amount of applicants with higher class performance. He attributed this trend to the test-optional policy giving students more confidence to apply and also the University’s increased outreach to first-generation and low-income students.

As the University evaluates the possibility of permanently switching to a test-optional application, Bishop hopes the class of 2025 can provide feedback on the admissions committees’ job of evaluating applicants without the typical value of a standardized test score.

“Did we find a few more students that are just hard-working, really fascinating learners by being test-optional, and did we reward the right things?” Bishop said. “We’re really going to want to watch this class.”

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall who hails from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in marketing and — temporarily — political science. He currently serves as an associate news editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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