College admits 193 early, jump in number of regular applications steps up competition

Upon the completion of the early decision process, the Office of Admission announced it had accepted 193 students for membership in the College Class of 2007. These students, who are for the second time in the College’s history primarily female, hail from 32 states and seven countries and boast an average SAT score over 1400. They will eventually comprise a little more than a third of the incoming first-year class.

The College received 496 early-decision applications. Of those, 268 were from women, while 228 were from men. The overall acceptance rate was 39 percent. Of the accepted students, 86 were male and 107 were female. This makes for a male/female ratio of 45:55.

According to Dick Nesbitt, director of Admissions, the increasing female dominance in college admissions is part of a national trend: “It’s happening nationally at liberal arts colleges and universities, with the exception of more technical, research institutions like MIT,” he said.

Nesbitt added he does not expect the trend of increased female presence on the College campus to slow either in this year’s regular decision pool or in the next several classes to be admitted to the College. That the Class of 2007 will be primarily female is not only a reflection of the fact that most of the applicants are female. In addition to receiving more applications from females than from males, the College also accepted a slightly higher percentage of female applicants than male. Nesbitt said that despite the increasing number of female applicants to the College, the standard of admission for both sexes is the same.

Interestingly, he said that the majority of the gender imbalance is found among minority applicants.“When you break it down by race . . . we had almost exactly the same number of male and female white students applying,” he said in reference to last year’s applicant pool. “But there was a much bigger imbalance among African-American, Latino and Asian-American students. In some cases it was 40:60 male/female.”

Despite over-enrolling the Class of 2006 by approximately 11 students, the College accepted precisely the same number of early-decision applicants this year as it did last year. Nesbitt said that this is due to two reasons. First, he said that the over-enrollment of 11 students was not substantial and that far too much has been made of it. Second, he said, post-Sept. 11 concerns last year caused the College to underestimate its yield.

“Last year, particularly because of post-9/11 uncertainties, with the economy and with the uncertainties about airlines, there was a lot of speculation that people wouldn’t want to go far from home; that ultimately didn’t have as much of an impact on yield as was anticipated,” Nesbitt said.

The Admissions Office is particularly pleased with the increased number of minority students who were accepted under early decision.

“What you worry about with early decision is that kids who are disadvantaged don’t typically apply as much,” Nesbitt said. But because of successful programs that encourage minority students to visit the campus before the early decision deadline, this year’s early decision class has a record number of minority students – up to 24 percent from last year’s 19 percent.

“What we had in this year’s class was extraordinary diversity relative to previous pools. . . We’re particularly pleased with the increase in Asian-American students,” he said, referring to the 19 Asian-Americans who will join the Class of 2007.

The early decision class also includes 12 African-American students, 13 Latino students and six international students – one each from Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, Kenya and Nepal.

There is also some degree of geographic diversity among American students. Although 32 states are represented, the most heavily represented states are all in the Northeast. The most represented state is Massachusetts with 44, followed by New York with 31, New Jersey with 16, Connecticut with 11 and California with nine.

With 193 students accepted, approximately 330 places remain in next year’s first-year class. As of Jan. 8, the College had received 4,800 applications. At the same point last year, the College had received only 3,900.

“It appears that we will have more regular decision applications than we have ever had,” Nesbitt said.

The benefit, of course, of so many applications is that the College has a greater number of qualified students from which to choose. Predicting a yield between 35 and 37 percent, the College will admit approximately 900 of its regular applicants. “Just based on numbers,” Nesbitt said, “this class is looking very strong.”