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UChicago College Apps Down 9.5 Percent

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Replies to: UChicago College Apps Down 9.5 Percent

  • theluckystartheluckystar Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    Frankly, I did not see this coming, not this year anyway. With all the reasons other forumites offered for the drop, there is no clear one to me, although they all make sense.

    "Would it be slightly easier for 2019 apps?" Well, may be. In any event, the overall admission rate should still be a little below that of last year. My guess is ~8.5% if Chicago is still aiming for the Class of 2018 size of 1,400 with an approximate yield of 60%.
  • theluckystartheluckystar Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    JHS, that's a nice perspective. However, the way I see it is that the Chicago "stock" is not done yet; this is merely a correction, due to whatever reason. We need to continue to observe the numbers for the next couple of years to determine whether the total apps have reached saturation point or not.
  • awcntdbawcntdb Registered User Posts: 3,553 Senior Member
    Real simple - "Something that cannot go on forever, won't."
  • eddi137eddi137 Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    OK. theylucky, use stock market as an analogy.

    Chicago's stock had been undervalued for a very long time until several years ago, at least domestically. For some reasons it has had explosive growth recently. But every stock has an intrinsic value and Chicago's one has been being approached rapidly (it may not be over yet).

    Then people have realized (calculated whatever) its growth and the margin of profit has been diminished. If Chicago's stock is good (I think so) in the long term people will still invest into it. But it will grow more gradually than before.

    I can think Chicago's stock is a blue chip now and its rapid growth is over. There may be corrections here and there but 20% increase year over year may not happen again.

    Definitely you can increase a stock's intrinsic value to make it more attractive again. Like appealing to internationals, reducing cost, increasing class size, getting more awards, rewarding more scholarships, etc.

    IMO Chicago is in a very good position now with its peers. The application numbers will be around 30K (+15% or -15%) for the incoming years.

    Why other peers (NW, Duke, Penn) have more applicants? They are bigger than Chicago (1600, 2100, 2100) and they will get more to some extent.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,944 Senior Member
    They also have engineering and architecture, and in the case of NW and Penn some specialized schools (communications, business, nursing) that draw applications from people who don't (and shouldn't) even consider applying to Chicago.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    JHS,

    I'm not sure I buy the "some schools are larger and with more specialized divisions [e.g. engineering], so they'll draw more apps" argument either. UPenn, NU, and UChicago were all the same size with the same structure last year, but last year, the schools also received roughly the same number of apps (31283 for Penn, 32772 for NU, 30396 for UChicago). Similarly, Columbia is about the same size as UChicago, and received many more apps this year. Also, heck, more than ever, UChicago could at least tout the molecular engineering institute - something it could never do earlier.

    I do think there is some sort of correction going on, but it's curious the dip was so substantial. Make no mistake, UChicago has one of the best financed and largest admissions offices in the country, with an admissions dean who has openly stated that a big part of his job is bringing in apps. If the numbers last year put it in line with larger schools (like NU and Penn), a reversal in fortune this year is a bad result for the office.

    I do wonder whether word has spread a bit - that UChicago isn't as good a combination of "great school/'easier' to get into" and whether, well, the school actually can be all things to all people in the way Penn or NU or Duke can. Student life at UChicago still has a ways to go before it becomes anything like what one finds at other schools. The administration has a rep for not being as student friendly, the range of extra-curricular offerings (while better) is probably not as entrenched or as expansive as elsewhere, and the school, at the end of the day, is still a bit of a citadel with a grueling (albeit less grade deflated) academic environment. Also, at least of the "top five" schools, UChicago easily has the "softest" reputation, which probably doesn't help matters.

    To sum, there are multiple reasons for this, but it appears as if the market may be correcting a bit to reflect what's probably indicative of the truth - UChicago's a great school, but it's not for everyone (at least not in the way that Duke, Columbia, NU, etc. can offer a lot for a very wide range of students).

    All this being said, I imagine Nondorf will be having some interesting conversations with his staff and higher-ups in the coming weeks.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    Put another way, I've said this before, but I think UChicago is still not the best choice for those "Great student AND..." applicants. (By that I mean, Great student AND great soccer player, Great student AND big-time a cappella singer, Great student AND serious dancer, Great student AND serious journalist, etc.)

    UChicago's primary driver is its academics, but many students focus on the "AND" part quite a bit. Many other schools cultivate the "AND" part much more carefully (be it through higher level athletics, more specialized schools, more entrenched or intense student groups, etc.). UChicago is a great fit for those who are serious about academics with a good interest in something else (documentary films, pretty good high school athlete, etc.), but it doesn't play to the "AND" part as much.

    Case in point, and I imagine this hasn't changed much today - when I was at UChicago, I knew lots of people on the sports teams, and they mentioned that, all in all, UChicago sports resembled a fairly good high school program, and the level of competition was around what you'd see when good HS teams play each other. Similarly, I had a friend who was in a marching band in HS, and she didn't even have an outlet for that at UChicago. Another friend was a dancer, and noted that NU easily had more options in this arena than UChicago. (In fact, NU had better options in all three arenas - higher level sports, dance, marching band, etc.).

    I think this makes a difference when you attempt to draw in applications. Couple that with no real rallying point (no Duke basketball, no cachet of an ivy league school, no great California weather, no engineering/dance/theater/journalism/DI Big Ten program like NU) and it's difficult to push up application numbers, especially once the word is out that it's super tough to gain admission. Heck, some smart kids want a great school AND a traditional college party life (this isn't an unreasonable request) but UChicago can't provide that. There's an improving social scene on campus, but no one is comparing it to Duke or NU or Penn just yet, and it doesn't have the glamour of NYC or the student-vibe of Boston.

    To sum: UChicago is still a hard(er) sell, and all the marketing in the world can't change that. I wonder if we'll now see a few years of very good app numbers (based on all the sustained marketing), but somewhat lower numbers than Columbia, NU, Duke, etc.
  • guccigirlguccigirl Registered User Posts: 156 Junior Member
    I think self-selection is still a factor with UChicago. I have friends this year who wanted to apply to UChicago, but just couldn't come up with a good response to the essays and in the end just didn't. And plus, the yield this year is probably going to be pretty high. The early yield has already exceeded expectations, and almost all kids haven't even gotten RD decisions yet. The acceptance rate will probably be around the same as last year, making this whole thing not that big of a deal.
  • phurikuphuriku Registered User Posts: 2,779 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    I think most of what Cue7 has said here is off-base. I think eddi137 has a much better sense of what's going on.

    Has anybody else realized that this year, there's pretty much no discussion whatsoever about yield inflation? Looking at Chicago's stats, it was an absurd discussion anyway, but the reason it was brought up year after year is simple: UChicago was seen as "that great University that isn't quite as hard to get into as the Ivy Leagues". And along with that reputation came students who would throw apps at Chicago because it was USNWR top 5 but supposedly not as selective as Harvard or Columbia; these same students would consequently take offense upon being rejected, blaming their rejection on so-called yield inflation.

    Now that UChicago has a publicly-known 8.8% admit rate (that even displays on Google when you search for the University), there are no misunderstandings: if you can't get into HYPSM, you're probably not going to get into UChicago. And this is obviously going to deter potential applicants.

    This isn't a bad thing; actually, I think it's quite healthy. UChicago's applicant field is changing to a more mature one that can no longer rely on a false image to drum up numbers. There will always be schools like Duke, WashU, or NU that get massive amounts of apps, but most applicants to these schools are desperate, and these schools' low yields and huge number of ED applicants serve as strong evidence of that. Better to be like Princeton with its 26,500 apps than like NU with its 33,000.

    That doesn't mean that UChicago can't grow its app field. It certainly can, and I think it will. The University has indeed experienced "hiccup years" in the past. One can take Ted O'Neill's final year or Nondorf's 2nd year as examples. These years didn't start a new trend in deceleration; the acceleration in apps continued, and at an even faster rate, after the blown year. The question now is, can Nondorf keep up Chicago's rise in admissions despite a changing applicant field? This will depend on if Chicago can actually convince applicants (not just USNWR editors) that it naturally belongs with HYPSM. In the next few years, we'll see just how much of an admissions wizard Nondorf is.
  • phurikuphuriku Registered User Posts: 2,779 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    To add on to my previous post, even better than being like Princeton with its 26,500 apps and like NU with its 33,000 apps is to be like Harvard with its 35,000 apps.

    There's a qualitative difference between getting 35,000 apps at Harvard and getting 35,000 apps at WashU. Like I mentioned previously, Harvard has much more of a mature applicant field. It can't send e-mails to random people with 1800 SATs expecting them to apply, because applicants with 1800 SATs know they won't get into Harvard. WashU can work that strategy though (and does it pretty well, although it results in a very low yield). Up to now, UChicago could rely on that strategy as well. But with UChicago's expanding reputation, the University can no longer count on that as a feasible method for attaining future application growth.

    To attain applicant growth in a more mature applicant field, Chicago will have to convince applicants that it can reasonably compete with HYPSM at the name-brand level, and that it offers something different and better. This will require re-molding UChicago's marketing identity, which Nondorf will have to dedicate himself to over the next few years. Cue7 is right when he says that UChicago is seen as the "soft" school in the USNWR top 5; and if this doesn't change, the University can expect to see applications in the 26,000 to 28,000 range over the next 5 years. Personally, I would like to see application numbers rise to 35,000, and I think this is only possible with a sound marketing strategy that not only gets UChicago's name out there like before, but convinces applicants that Chicago's name brand can compete with the likes of Harvard, MIT, and Stanford.
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,124 Senior Member
    Mr. Nondorf can start by cleaning up the admissions web site. It's a bit of a mess right now.
  • eddi137eddi137 Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Let's see class 2018's number from a different point of view by breaking it down into EA and RD.

    class 2018 EA (11,143) jump %6.7 from class 2017 EA (10,316) - net increase of 827.
    class 2018 RD (16,356) drop %18.5 from class 2017 RD (20,080) - net decrease of 3,724.

    I think students who most likely apply to EA are:

    1. Chicago is the top choice.
    2. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside SCEA schools) but she wants to bet on Chicago instead of SCEA.
    3. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside ED schools) so she can bet on Chicago and one ED.
    4. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside EA schools) so she can bet on Chicago and other EAs.
    5. No preferred schools but Chicago is an EA school so she can bet on higher admit rate while keeping options open.

    One can see Chicago is a great bargain here so EA number is still excellent (+%6.7).

    For RD students:

    1. Chicago is the top choice but she has not applied during EA (time, awareness, etc.).
    2. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside SCEA). She has applied to SCEA but not been accepted.
    3. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside RD). She has applied to RD but not been accepted.
    4. Chicago is one of the top choices (alongside EA schools). She has not had time to apply multiple EAs so she can make it up during RD.
    5. No preferred schools but Chicago is one of the options so she can hope to get in.

    IMO the RD results look like:

    For #1 the number should not drop a lot.
    For #2 the number has dropped to some extent - considering SCEA schools have increased the EA admits (Harvard, etc.).
    For #3 the number has dropped even more - considering ED schools have increased the ED admits (NW, Duke, etc.) and there are many ED schools.
    For #4 the number should not drop a lot.
    For #5 the number should have dropped a lot - considering the sub 10% admit rate for class 2017, which has discouraged many bargain hunters.

    I have noticed some bargaining does exist in this admission cycle - Duke and NW have had big increases of ED numbers but are flat in overall numbers (implying big decreases of RD numbers).

    Maybe Chicago's class 2017 was a banner year and class 2018 is a more typical year (with potential gradually growth - less 10%) ?
  • eddi137eddi137 Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Cue7,

    Your statement of "Great student AND..." makes some sense to me. Indeed some exceptional multi-talented students may have passed on Chicago. But I wonder how many those students Chicago has missed this year.

    Class 2018 has had a net decrease of applicants of 30,369 - 27,449 = 2,920. IMO those supposed not applied students represent a small portion of 2,920.

    I do not have hard numbers right now but I think those exceptional multi-talented students are minorities even in the schools you have mentioned. So the supposed missed exceptional mufti-talented students would be minorities in the class 2018 application pool.
  • eddi137eddi137 Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Duke, NW, Penn had 11.5%, 13.9%, 12.1% admit rate for class 2017 - due to their larger class size. I think they are still viewed as bargains, sort of. Make no mistake they are great schools but are considered easier to get into when compared to others. Many applicants are not savvy enough to know all pros and cons of many great schools. Admit rate is one easy and obvious factor to consider beginning with.

    Indeed all of those schools have increased numbers most of the recent years. They were on par with Chicago last year. I think Chicago might have hit a road bump this year and it has slowed down while others have kept going on.

    It is hard to compare an EA school with an ED school in general though Columbia is an interesting case considering its similar class size and sub 10% admit rate for several years.

    Columbia has had 3,296 ED applicants while Chicago has 11,143 EA - a net negative of 7,847.
    Columbia has had 29,656 RD applicants while Chicago has 16,356 RD - a net positive of 13,300.

    I often wonder why RD numbers are very high for ED schools even they have already filled a large portion of its incoming class (54% in Penn's case) - students' unawareness? Cast a wide net?
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 22,172 Senior Member
    How is Chicago doing with job placement of its graduates relative to its peers? Students are concerned with after life. I am from East coast and I do not run into that many Chicago graduates.
This discussion has been closed.