College applicants reach all-time high

This year experienced a record-breaking torrent of applications as competition tightened for colleges and universities nationwide.

According to their admissions departments, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, among others, reported double-digit increases in applications for the class of 2012.

Harvard experienced the largest increase, reporting over 17,000 applicants, an increase of 19 percent from last year.

The University of Chicago and Amherst College rounded out the top three, with application increases of 17 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

According to The New York Times, many officials credited the increase in applications to the increased adoption of online applications and students applying to a larger number of universities.

Some officials had predicted that the abandonment of early admission policies at Harvard, Princeton University, and the University of Virginia among others would calm the college frenzy. Yet, judging from this year’s application trends, this theory has been proven false.

The college admissions craze is expected to reach its peak in 2009 when the number of graduating high school seniors is expected to be 3.2 million, the largest the nation has ever seen.

Although Carnegie Mellon’s Office of Admissions has not yet offered an application count, they reported an increase of 19.2 percent last year.

Many students conjectured on the number of applications expected this year.

“The number of pre-college students interested in taking classes at CMU during high school has increased quite a bit over the last few years,” said Anna Goddard, a sophomore ethics, history, and public policy major.

As a student ambassador and Carnegie Mellon pre-college counselor, Goddard gives tours to prospective students and interacts with them on campus.

Goddard noted that although computer science remains a popular choice, the artistic departments have received great attention.

“I know girls who would kill to get into the drama program, especially musical theater,” Goddard said.

There are many student opinions as to why so many prospective students are considering Carnegie Mellon.

“I think that we definitely draw from a certain population. All of our prospective students are passionate about something, whether it’s acting or computers,” said Tom Lewkowitz, a sophomore computer science major and Carnegie Mellon pre-college counselor this past summer.

Lewkowitz also brought up college rankings and the press as having an influence on students and their families when choosing which colleges to attend.

“People can’t help but notice reports in the media and [the] U.S. News rankings that consistently place our university in the top 25 schools in the nation,” Lewkowitz said.
Some students expressed concern at Carnegie Mellon’s social reputation.

“CMU’s reputation for having a ‘nerdy’ and somewhat over-stressed student population has some influence over applicants,” Goddard said.

Alexa Beaver, a sophomore ChemE and Hispanic studies double major, agreed.

“I feel like, as a school, we need to make sure students know that we are both a great school academically and a place where kids like to have fun,” Beaver said.

However, if trends are indicative of the future, these record-breaking figures could be broken in the very near future. For now, however, competition for a spot in Carnegie Mellon will remain stiff.

“The continued substantial increase in applications is an indicator of the University’s strong reputation,” said President Jared Cohon. “We have no plans to increase the undergraduate student body.”