The Office of Admissions reported a 5.5 percent overall drop in applications from last year. Still Early Decision 1 and Questbridge Match increased by 5.0 percent, Early Decision 2 increased by 3.0 percent and regular decision applications decreased by 6.0 percent. This year’s decrease in regular decision applications comes after several years of significant increases.
“I was pleased and surprised last year to see our applicants go from 10,000 to 10,600, which was quite unusual,” said Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Gregory Pyke. “Obviously, nobody who works in admissions wants to have fewer applications, but if we stay at this same level of applicants then I will continue to be happy.”
Pyke theorized that the decrease in applicants could be the result of a variety of factors such as the recession or more students deciding that Wesleyan is too selective.
“Most obviously, and also hardest to quantify is the impact that the recession has on students applying to colleges that cost over $50,000 a year,” Pyke said. “We expected applications to go down in the first year of the recession and the opposite happened. It may be that the recession has taken hold enough that it is affecting students more now. Given the decrease in population of the Northeast, it was unsurprising we would receive fewer applicants from there.”
Pyke also suggested that perhaps a greater number of potential regular decision applicants to Wesleyan were accepted Early Decision at other universities. This year Wesleyan saw a total of 897 ED applicants, a five percent increase from last year’s total of 857, leading Pyke to suggest that perhaps more students nationwide are applying ED.
“We are very pleased with the results of ED1 and our third year of Questbridge Match,” wrote Dean of Admissions Nancy Meislahn in an e-mail to The Argus.
According to Pyke, 2011 admissions statistics for Wesleyan’s peer institutions remain largely unknown, and, of the group of 30 universities with which Wesleyan shares admissions data, only six colleges have reported their findings at this time.
Pyke also expressed disappointment that there was a decrease in applicants despite an expansion of Admissions staff.
“It was a little discouraging that after increasing our admissions staff to include 13 deans there was this decrease,” Pyke said. “We hoped to be able to expand our travel and expand our recruitment efforts, which we hoped would lead to more applications, which it ultimately didn’t.”
Even with this decrease in applicants, Pyke remains optimistic about the admissions process in the coming years. Next year, they hope to target regions where Wesleyan is not well known.
“Our reputation is to a large extent coastal,” he said. “A large part of the flyover country does not really know about Wesleyan. A lot of our recruitment in the last few years is to try and get better known in states like Texas, Arizona, and Illinois.”