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UChicago College Apps Down 9.5 Percent

Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member
edited February 2014 in University of Chicago

Save for Dartmouth, UChicago saw the biggest drop in applications (-9.5%) this year in comparison to its peers. Most schools stayed roughly level (e.g. Columbia, Harvard, Duke), Penn had a big increase (+14%), and only Dartmouth saw a large decrease (-14%).

UChicago spokespeople say that common app glitches adversely affected the numbers, but this is an unconvincing explanation. UChicago accepted apps for LONGER than most of its peers (until mid-January), and most of its peers did not experience any significant drop off in apps.

Any thoughts about the significant decrease in apps? Not sure exactly what is at play here but, for Nondorf and his mission to drum up as many apps as is feasible, this is a disappointing year. Yield may go up this year, but in the big numbers app game UChicago plays, they lost significant ground to Northwestern, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, etc. - all the schools with well more than 30,000+ apps.

As an interesting note - for some reason, UChicago really struggles to get regular decision applications. Columbia, Brown, NU, etc. all get about 30,000 regular decision apps each, but UChicago only receives ~17,000-20,000 RD apps, and lots of EA apps. With an EA pool of 11,000, it'd seem reasonable for UChicago to pull in another 25,000 RD apps, and have ~33000-35000 apps total. Again, from the hard numbers perspective, this will be a disappointing year in UChicago's admissions office (an office, by the way, that is one of the largest and most well-funded [for mailings, at least] offices of its kind in the country).

Replies to: UChicago College Apps Down 9.5 Percent

  • desie1desie1 Registered User Posts: 892 Member
    Early Action apps were at a record high. Maybe regular apps are down because more students than usual were accepted into some of the other top schools? (ED acceptance numbers were up)
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,124 Senior Member
    Cue7 I wonder if the essays have something to do with it. Isn't it harder to send a "Oh what the heck I might as well give it a try" application to UChicago than the other places?
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member

    No, I don't buy that - UChicago has a supplement that asks two questions: 1.) Why UChicago? and 2.) Pick a Quirky Essay prompt, or create a question of your own.

    You're not even compelled to respond to the "quirky" essay prompt - you could just create your own question. Further, many schools have a supplement that ask basically the same questions (Penn, Northwestern, etc.) and this doesn't seem to deter applications.
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,124 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    Maybe its the new dorm then? :\">
  • LachesLaches Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    I'd rather not accuse high school seniors of being superficial in their college search and application decisions, but do you guys think uchicago's slight drop in some of the college rankings this year might have had an impact on this year's application numbers? Although the rankings lack any clear objective value, I have a feeling that some students may base their application decisions on them. Seeing how other college information resources are often lacking and make comparisons form college to college hard, this is not inconceivable.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    Laches - I really don't think a drop from #4 to #5 for UChicago in the rankings really makes that big a difference. In fact, some colleges that are ranked lower or steady in comparison to where they have been in the past (Duke at #7, Penn at #7, NU at #12) had gains or steady results on the app numbers front.
  • Cal8876Cal8876 Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    I think you could see this coming actually...my wife works for a college guidance company and the Common App glitches were basically a non-issue once December rolled around. Many schools extended by a couple days as a courtesy but I thought it was odd UofC extended clear into the middle of January. It seems the hyper growth of apps to select colleges have hit a saturayion point. Penn seems to be an outlier in the numbers reported so far. Most are showing very modest growth at best....Northwestern and Duke up roughly 2%, Princeton basically flat, Yale did fairly well, Columbia and Harvard slightly down. Dartmouth and UfoC down more than others.......will be interesting to see Stanford's numbers.
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,124 Senior Member
    I think there are multiple reasons. The common application thing is one, but I agree with Cue that this explanation doesn't wash totally. What you say Laches is another. Another thought is that 2017 was a bubble, and that 2018 fits the trend. If you look at 2016 to 2018, its an increase of almost 9%. Another possibility is that the admissions office just got outworked. Once you step on the treadmill, you've got to keep running. Kind of like SEC football recruiting.
  • International95International95 Registered User Posts: 1,611 Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    It's quite unhealthy for a school to have more applications than 20k (especially so for a college like UChicago, which is far from mainstream.) However, I do think this point is moot because all schools these days seem to want to draw more applications. When I heard that Reed eliminated its graded paper requirement and the application fee just to get more applications, I was utterly disappointed.
  • LachesLaches Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    Cue7, I was not necessarily referring to the US news ranking but other ranking resources like Forbes. I do agree it shouldn't be a significant factor. It is probably the case that applications for the class of 2017 were an anomaly, and uchicago is back to its steadier long term rate of growth.
  • WasatchWriterWasatchWriter Registered User Posts: 2,528 Senior Member
    And after all that junk mail they sent out! I'm a little surprised. I'll bet they are too.
  • LachesLaches Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    It may also be worth to consider that the significant drop in uchicago's acceptance rate last year may have deterred some of the students that would have applied in the past.
  • Ch1746Ch1746 Registered User Posts: 269 Junior Member
    Will it be slightly easier for 2019 apps? :)
  • eddi137eddi137 Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Actually it is inevitable. But it is sort of surprising to see it happening this year considering the efforts the admission office has put into.

    At least I can offer one explanation about this symptom.

    There is a point (range) which balances the supply and the demand. The supply is a school's reputation, resources, student life, etc. and the demand is the desire of an applicant to try. If many applicants think a school is a bargain the number will be higher otherwise fewer will apply. One of the bargains is how easy to get into from applicant's point of view.

    In Chicago's case it was less popular (the student body was as every bit smart as the current one if not smarter) relative to its peers a few years ago so it had higher admit rate. For whatever reason it was becoming hot in recent years and many applicants had paid attention to it. They thought it was a great school with a bargain (relatively easier to get in). After a few admission cycles it has become very hard to get in then some applicants have been scared off. They have put their bets on other schools. Considering every school requires substantial supplement essays it is easy to spend a couple of days on a single school.

    Thinks of Harvard which is one of the most popular schools in the nation. One would think it must have drawn tons of applications but its numbers have been hovering above 30K but fewer than 40K. A lot of very qualified students have been scared off their sub 6% admission rate. Chicago broke the sub 10% barrier last year and I think its low admission rate has scared off some potential applicants to some extent.

    Let's study Columbia's trend in recent years. To many people Chicago and Columbia are very similar (Urban, Core, reputation, class size, moved to Comm app recently, etc).

    Class 2015 (34,929) saw 33.4% jump from class 2014.

    Class 2016 (31,818) saw 8.9% drop from class 2015.

    Class 2017 (33,460) saw 5.2% jump from class 2016.

    Class 2018 (32,952) saw 1.5% drop from class 2017.

    One can see the numbers have fluctuated but trended to stabilize around 32K-34K.

    It is a natural evolution process for Chicago. It may mean it has gained popularity it did not have, and it has been put into a group of its peers.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,944 Senior Member
    Including this year's drop, Chicago's applications have still gone up more than 200% in the past decade. In the same period, Harvard, Yale and Princeton have gone up by about 75%. No other college has seen such a major shift in its attractiveness vis a vis its competitors in such a short time. It wasn't going to increase 20% per year forever. It may not increase 20% per year ever again.
This discussion has been closed.