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Applications Keep Going Up

Applications to Northwestern this year reflect 121 percent increase from 10 years ago

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April 7, 2011 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The admittance letters have been sent out following a record number of applications to Northwestern University for fall 2011. Rising applications, of course, mean that a lower percentage of applicants were admitted. 

The applicants overall are statistically more accomplished and reflect Northwestern’s stepped-up commitment to diversity and the surrounding community, following the launching of the Good Neighbor, Great University program last year. 

The total number of applications is 30,975 -- 12 percent higher than last year and nearly double the number received for fall 2005 (16,228). Accordingly, only 18 percent of applicants were admitted this year, versus 23.10 percent last year. 

Since 2001, when Northwestern received fewer than 14,000 applications, applications are up by 121 percent.

Almost half of this year’s applicants to Northwestern earned the equivalent of a 4.0 or higher grade point average. Of applicants reporting class rank, 71 percent were in the top decile. And half of the applicants earned a 1420 or higher on the SAT (the equivalent of a 32 on the ACT).

“Each year, the goal is to enroll the most capable and diverse class, and the Class of 2015 certainly exceeds expectations,” said Mike Mills, associate provost for admissions at Northwestern.

Nearly 200 students were admitted to the Good Neighbor, Great University program, and about one half of them qualified for the scholarship. The program provides significantly increased financial aid to incoming freshmen from public or private high schools in Evanston and Chicago. Enabling students to have ample time for their studies, the scholarship money eliminates the need for so-called “self-help” wages from work-study and summer jobs and for student loans.

“Sometimes low- and moderate-income students don’t even know Northwestern is an option,” said Christopher Watson, dean of admissions at Northwestern. “The Good Neighbor, Great University program provides us with wonderful opportunities to change that perception and to give economically challenged students the resources they need to succeed.”  

The Class of 2015 can look forward to joining a University that is home to a recent Nobel Prize winner and consistently gets faculty recognition for major research breakthroughs in numerous disciplines. And because undergraduate research opportunities at Northwestern have grown exponentially in recent years, students need not sit on the sidelines. Northwestern students, whether working with a professor in a science lab or in countries all over the globe, are doing serious research in the natural sciences, engineering, social science, journalism, the arts, humanities and performance. And they are winning major prizes themselves.