The postmark deadline for Early Decision (ED) applications for the Class of 2014 arrived on Nov. 10, marking the official start of the application process for next year’s incoming first-years. In the week since the deadline, the Office of Admission has received 520 applications from students who are willing to accept a binding commitment to attend the College in exchange for a higher admittance rate. Admission Director Dick Nesbitt said that though ED applications are likely to trickle in through December, the total number of ED applicants will likely fall much lower than last year’s mark of 614.
According to Nesbitt, his office plans on receiving a target of around 550 applications. “I think families are being more cautious this year,” he said, adding that the recent financial climate may lead some to wait until the regular decision deadline in January. Nesbitt added, however, that he remains optimistic that the College’s no-loan financial aid policy will continue to attract applicants in tough economic times. “We’ve almost never had to drop an accepted student because of financial considerations,” Nesbitt said.
The College typically accepts between 35 and 42 percent of ED applicants, Nesbitt said. “We tentatively set the limit at 40 percent,” he explained, “but it all depends on how qualified the pool is as a whole.” Nesbitt also noted that ED applicants traditionally include many athletes who have been recruited by specific coaches and teams, but that the field has grown steadily more diverse in recent years as growing numbers of low-income, minority and international students have begun weighing the advantages of committing to the College early in the process.
ED application numbers peaked last year after growing from the total of 531 in 2006. The general rise that the College has seen in ED applications may partly stem from programs that actively court a wider range of applicants. This year, Nesbitt also expects to receive at least 10 matches from the Questbridge organization, an extremely selective program that connects highly qualified low-income students with 29 of the nation’s top schools for a full four-year scholarship. Another program, Windows on Williams (WOW), covers travel costs for low-income prospective students to visit the College for an open house in the fall.
The Admission support staff is currently moving ahead with the task of sorting and alphabetizing the ED application data, and the assistant Admissions directors will begin conferencing after the first week of December to prepare a final list of accepted students. Admission will send acceptance notifications both by mail and electronically on Dec. 15.