Jan 18, 2011

New Application Records Set

Common Application officials announced today that a new single-day record was set on December 31, 2010, when students submitted 127,175 electronic applications through the online Common App system. And as of January 15, applicants submitted more than 2.1 million applications, an increase of 22 percent over this time last year and surpassing the total volume for the entire 2009-10 admission cycle.

These numbers are hardly surprising as Common App member colleges all over the country are slowly rolling out application figures that are nothing short of breathtaking.

While many local colleges are still “processing” applications and haven’t released numbers, Harvard University reports receiving just short of 35,000 applications—an increase of 15 percent over last year and more than 50 percent higher since 22,955 applied four years ago. First-time Common App member, Columbia University received 34,587 applications, which represented a whopping 32 percent increase over 2009-10.

On the west coast, Stanford’s applications rose by nearly 7 percent, and Harvey Mudd College was up by about 14 percent—no doubt fueled by recent press concerning mid-career salary success experienced by Harvey Mudd grads.

In the Midwest, the University of Chicago received 12 percent more applications this year, while freshman applications to Northwestern University for next fall’s entering class reached 30,529—a 10.5 percent increase from last year.

Duke University received just short of 30,000 applications, 2,287 of which were submitted under the early decision program. Of those applicants, 24,307 applied to the College of Arts and Sciences and 5,219 applied to the Pratt School of Engineering, representing 10.8 and 7.7 percent increases respectively.

At the University of Pennsylvania, applications were up by almost 15 percent to 30,956, while Dartmouth College received over 21,700 applications—15.7 percent more than last year. And Brown recently announced receipt of almost 31,000 applications, representing a 50% increase over three years.

No doubt these numbers are largely the result of how easy it is to submit multiple applications through online applications. It was lots harder when you had to painstakingly type individual forms on the old IBM Selectric. But aggressive marketing as well as student insecurities about the need for an application safety net are also feeding the frenzy.

The Higher Education Institute reports that the percentage of students applying to 7 or more colleges doubled to 23 percent in 2009 from 12 percent a decade earlier. While the median number of applications is still about 4 and it’s rare for students to apply to 12 or more colleges (only 3.3 percent in 2009), the upward trend shows no signs of slowing down if Common App statistics are any indication.

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