Yale’s early decision application numbers continued to increase despite the events of Sept. 11 while the number of early applications to Brown plummeted after the college switched from non-binding early action to binding early decision this year.
At Yale, early application totals jumped by about 16 percent this fall as Brown’s application totals dropped by more than 63 percent, from 5,251 applicants to 1,917. Harvard’s numbers remained steady.
Diana Cooke, associate director of undergraduate admissions at Yale, said there were about 2,100 applicants this year, up from about 1,800 last year.
“It is always gratifying to see the numbers go up, but they are hard to interpret without knowing what is going on nationally,” University President Richard Levin said.
Cooke said the admissions office had been concerned there might be a drop in applications from the Midwest after Sept. 11, but that so far there hasn’t been a significant geographic shift in the Yale applicant pool.
Brown’s Director of Admissions, Michael Goldberger, said his office has seen a slight decrease in the percentage of applicants from the South and Midwest, but that the percentage of international applicants has gone up.
“Because we switched from early action to early decision, it’s impossible to tell what the impact was of Sept. 11,” Goldberger said. “But [the increase in international applications] is the opposite of what we would have expected.”
Edward Hu, the junior-senior dean at Harvard-Westlake Upper School in North Hollywood, said that with the exception of Brown he hasn’t seen any major fluctuations in the number of early applications or where his students are applying.
Hu’s account of his school’s applications to Brown paralleled the overall numbers from Brown’s admissions office.
“They were about a third of what they were from previous years,” Hu said.
Marilyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, which still offers early action, said the number of early applications in Cambridge is up 0.5 percent from last year.
“The numbers are what should have been predicted demographically,” Lewis said. “And the geographic distribution, which we’ve been looking at carefully, is not really different from past years.”
The only exception, Lewis said, is an increase in applications from the Midwest, which were up 15 percent this year.
“But for several years we’ve been recruiting really hard [in the Midwest,]” Lewis said. “It’s just finally begun to make a difference.”
Lewis said the events of Sept. 11 could have a greater effect on the regular application process because of factors that possibly could affect matriculation decisions, including the current recession, future military actions and fear of more terrorist attacks.
“Any changes that may come as a result of people’s remote fears as a cause of Sept. 11 would be more likely to affect the regular application pool,” Lewis said.
“In terms of the impact of Sept. 11, I think the significant piece is going to be the yield,” she said.