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Early Decision Applications Up Again

Record number of high school students are committing to Northwestern

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November 10, 2011 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The number of high school seniors who are absolutely sure that college for them means Northwestern University -- if they get accepted – has broken yet another record.

Northwestern received 2,450 early decision applications, 15.2 percent more than last year. That follows a 26 percent jump in early decision applications the University received last year.

“That’s a 45 percent increase in just two years,” said Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment at Northwestern. “It tells us that Northwestern’s reputation as a leading research university that emphasizes undergraduate teaching is compelling to both students and their parents.”  

In addition, total applications for the Class of 2015 -- 30,975 – were 12 percent higher than the year before and nearly double the number received in fall 2005 (16,228). Accordingly, only 18 percent of applicants were admitted for this school year, versus 23 percent last year. 

Northwestern students’ performance in top-tier fellowship competitions brings home one of the main focuses of the University’s newly unveiled strategic plan, learning by doing outside of the classroom, especially through undergraduate research. 

The fellowship competitions are widely used measures of the quality of undergraduate teaching, and this year alone Northwestern produced the second highest number of Fulbright grant recipients among the nation’s research institutions, according to a ranking published Oct. 24 in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This year’s Fulbright winners, who currently teach, conduct research or study in countries around the world, represent every Northwestern undergraduate school as well as the law and medical schools. They come from disciplines that range from music to engineering, art history to journalism, psychology to theatre, history to linguistics and biology to African studies.

“Northwestern undergraduates, graduate students and alums increasingly are winning big competitions, including Fulbright, Marshall and Churchill scholarships,” said Sara Anson Vaux, director of the Office of Fellowships at Northwestern. “And Northwestern’s expansion of research and service opportunities here and abroad for undergraduates in recent years certainly helps to explain why.”

Northwestern’s undergraduate students also increasingly win Udall and Goldwater scholarships, and, as seniors and alums, are well prepared for the rigors of the most competitive national competitions, she said. 

The momentum in admissions and fellowship competition is gratifying to Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at Northwestern. 

“Our admissions goal is the same every year: to enroll the most capable, creative and diverse class possible,” Watson said. “And early decision applications once again suggest that we are sure to reach that goal.”