The “Wesleyan University Class of 2014” Facebook group is abuzz with excitement, and this year’s members have reason to be thrilled—admission for the Class of 2014 was the most selective it has been in the University’s history. Out of 10,656 applicants, the University admitted 2,125, translating to a 20 percent admission rate. In contrast, the rate two years ago was 27 percent. The University hopes to enroll 745 students.
Despite the increase in applicants—588 more than the Class of 2013 and 2,406 more than the Class of 2012—the criteria used for admission have not changed, according to Senior Associate Dean of Admission Gregory Pyke.
“We’ve continued to look for what we always have—evidence of real curiosity, students who enjoy the learning process, and students who will make a real contribution to the Wesleyan community,” he said. “The value of having a bigger applicant pool is that there’s more depth to be selective . . . in the criteria that matters to the school.”
Increased selectivity for the Class of 2014 resulted in an uptick of median SAT scores. The verbal, math, and writing components of the SAT each reached 730 this year, up from 730, 720, and 720, respectively, for the Class of 2013. The median ACT score remained the same, at 32.
The ratio of admitted men to women remained steady this year at 46 percent to 54 percent, as did the students coming from public high schools, which stayed at 56 percent. The geographic diversity of the admits includes 468 students from the West, 432 students from the New York Region, and 186 students from the South, slightly more diverse than last year’s. International students comprise 11 percent of admitted students, or 225 students, a three percent increase over the Class of 2013. Students of co lor make up 36 percent of the admits.
The University’s partnership with Questbridge—a non-profit program that matches high achieving, low-income students with 27 partner universities that provide full four-year scholarships—is in its second year, with 13 students matched to Wesleyan. Of these students, four are men and nine are women, 11 are students of color, 11 are from public high schools, and 8 of the 13 are from outside the New York-New England area.
Selecting the class this year was a more demanding process because, as Pyke explained, he found himself reading application after application and thinking, “great student, obvious admit.”
“Do that three or four times and you realize that you’re admitting at 100 percent, when you should be admitting students at a rate of 20 percent,” he said.
According to Pyke, this dilemma prompted the deans to shrink the admitted pool of Regular Decision students after they had gone through all of the applications, which moved some students who had initially been on the acceptance list to the waitlist. There were fewer spots available through Regular Decision this year, as the University admitted more students during Early Decision (ED)—48 percent of next year’s incoming class, or 358 students, will be ED applicants. In past years, ED applicants have made up about 40 percent of each class.
“With the number of Early Decision applications going up last year and this year, it’s unfortunate to penalize students for wanting to be at Wesleyan so much that they’re willing to forgo all the other schools that could have accepted them,” Pyke said. “If the Early Decision pool is bigger and it’s as good as or better than last year, that should drive up the number of Early Decision matriculates.”
Financial concerns also factored into the University’s decision to accept more students ED this year.
“With the uncertainty created by the economy and applicants who are applying to other famous schools, it’s better to have more [of the class] put to bed,” Pyke said.
Now that the incoming class has largely been determined, it’s in the hands of the students to decide 2014’s final composition.
“They have great potential to add to the Wesleyan community in so many and varied ways—smart, curious, interested and interesting,” Nancy Meislahn, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.