Despite recession, ED apps see dramatic increase
According to the Office of Admission, the number of Early Decision (ED) I applications increased by 36 percent since 2007. ED numbers are up at many schools across the country, despite the current economic climat—ut the University's spike is one of the highest.
“It is counterintuitive,” wrote Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Meislahn in an email to the Argus. “I would have guessed that concerns about the economy and paying for college in this climate would have discouraged some from applying early.”
Meislahn is uncertain about what specific factors caused such a large increase in applications, but she mentioned both President Michael Roth's initiative—in which he hopes to eliminate loans from the financial aid packages of students with a family income below $40,000 and replace them with grant—s well as greater recruiting as possible influences. The Office of Admission has also been working to increase recruiting efforts. In addition, two new deans were hired in the last four years, with the most recent being hired last year
“We now have 12 Admission deans,” Meislahn said. “As a result, we have more person-power to recruit, travel, correspond, manage programs, etc.”
Despite the increased recruiting, applicant numbers from regions around the U.S. have remained relatively constant over the past five years.
The Office of Admission is unsure how the unusually high number of applications will affect the acceptance rate for the class of 2013.
“We need to read the applications and get a sense of the quality in the pool before [determining how the acceptance rate will be altered],” Meislahn said. “We do anticipate a slightly larger frosh class, so we have some leeway with this pool.”
The recession does not appear to be deterring ED applicants. The percentage of applicants applying for financial aid remained similar to past years, with 43 percent of applicants applying for aid. With the larger number of applicants, however, the total number of students applying for financial aid increased by 42 percent over the previous year.
“I am fortunate enough to be able to say that although my family's financial situation has undoubtedly changed over the past few months, it did not affect my decision to apply early to Wesleyan,” said one applicant from Merion, Pennsylvania who wished to remain anonymous.
This increase does not appear to be due to any single factor, but rather to a boost in the University's reputation.
“I applied to Wesleyan because the environment really appealed to me and I was very comfortable when I visited,” said a student from Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.“It's a great academic institution and socially not too bad either.”
The Office of Admission sees the spike in applications as a sign that the University is becoming more popular, even at an extremely competitive time.
“I certainly think we can take this as a measure of Wesleyan's rising visibility,” Meislahn said.