Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

How To Lower Cornell's Acceptance Rate (And Why It Doesn't Matter)

Apparently David Skorton was harassed by undergraduates over the weekend, who complained that Cornell's admission rate hasn't fallen as much as some other peer schools.

Clearly, these students haven't been reading MetaEzra to know that acceptance rates don't really mater, mainly because they tell us nothing about the quality of the students who are applying or being accepted.

The students also need to learn some math. Skorton brought up a good point: Cornell is already receiving so many applications -- the seventh most out of 'selective' schools -- that it's harder for Cornell get more applications and bring down its headline acceptance rate. Even if Cornell received 25 percent more applications, its acceptance rate would likely only go down three points or so -- hardly putting Cornell into the same (non-athletic) league as Harvard or Yale.

But consider: Of 'competitive' private universities, only BU, Northeastern, NYU, Tulane, and USC receive more applications than Cornell, with none of those schools being located in a 'centrally isolated' Upstate New York collegetown. Rather, those schools tend to offer either the "glories" of the city life (whatever those might be for an undergraduate, color me confused) or a hard-partying beer and football atmosphere. Neither of which Cornell wants to (or can offer) anytime soon. So Cornell doesn't exactly have much room to increase its applicant pool, unless it wants to entice students who are painfully unqualified to attend Cornell to apply just for the sheer glory of being rejected.

There are other ways to lower an acceptance rate, of course, aside from increasing applications. One way would be to actually decrease the size of the student body. But why would Cornell want to educate less students? This is an institution that is famous for seeking to instruct 'any student' in 'any study'. Cornell could easily lower it's acceptance rate by shuttering the engineering college, which has a 22 percent acceptance rate, but that wouldn't be too popular, would it?

A second way would be to increase reliance on Cornell's early decision program. As I wrote last week, if Cornell filled as much as its class through ED as Penn did, its acceptance rate would drop below 16 percent. But given that ED use precludes Cornell from accepting (and enrolling) other deserving students, the University is wise not to admit too many students ED.

A final way to lower acceptance rates would be to increase the yield of the students who are accepted regular decision. If Cornell's yield increased from 35 percent to 50 percent for its regular decision pool, its acceptance rate would fall below 14 percent. That's a significant boost. But how could Cornell drive its yield up? Well, for starters, its students could stop complaining about meaningless numbers like acceptance rates and start doing something positive to make Cornell a better, more appealing place for all.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 12, 2011 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)