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Cornell's ED Numbers Remain Steady

Over at the Cornell Daily Sun, Julie Geng has got her hand on the first statistics to be released regarding Cornell's Early Decision applicants. Kudos to the Sun for reporting on the topic as soon as information became available, and not waiting until the semester started.

For the Class of 2012, 3,110 students applied for early decision, of which 36.6 percent, or 1,139 students, were granted admission under the binding program. Overall, early decision applications were up a modest 3 percent over the 3,015 students who applied for the Class of 2011, but the acceptance rate remained unchanged.

What this suggests is that Cornell's Early Decision program wasn't appreciably affected by the recent decisions by Harvard and Princeton to forego an early admissions program. This makes sense, as presumably there is little overlap between Harvard and Princeton's former early applicant pools and Cornell's, and few of these students would want to commit to Cornell's binding program without rolling the dice at Harvard and Princeton. But we should expect these students to also be applying to Cornell's regular decision program, resulting in the boost in regular decision applications we have already documented.

Among other top private institutions, early decision trends have been mixed. Columbia and Dartmouth have posted modest gains of 5 and 8 percent, respectively, and in absolute numbers experienced about the same increase in applications as Cornell did -- around 100 each. But at UPenn, early decision applications actually declined by 2 percent, despite strong efforts by the Quakers to expand no-loan financial aid policies.

The real story has been the growth in non-binding early admissions programs after Harvard and Princeton stepped aside. As would be expected, Yale seems to have benefited the most from Harvard and Princeton's decision, experiencing a 36 percent rise in early applications. But other schools experienced a windfall as well: Georgetown University was up by 31 percent, and at the University of Chicago by 42 percent.

But back to Cornell: The University has now filled 38 percent of the incoming Class of 2012 through the early decision program -- a slightly higher percentage than last year, but still far below some of its peers. Both Penn and Columbia tend to fill upwards of 45 percent of their incoming class through early decision programs. But with an all-time record number of regular decision applications this year, we can expect Cornell to post yet another record-low admissions rate.

There's one other feature of Cornell's admissions program to consider: Starting this year students are able to apply to both 'primary' and 'alternate' colleges at Cornell. But more about that later.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on January 06, 2008 (#)

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