College sends admission decisions in milestone year for applications

The University of Chicago has sent offers of admission to 2,676 College applicants, continuing a milestone year in which new financial aid opportunities and academic programs helped draw a record 30,369 applications to the College.

Interest in the College’s distinctive academic environment has steadily increased around the world and in all regions of the United States. This year’s admitted students from America are more evenly spread across the nation than ever, with roughly equal portions coming from the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast.

Applications and admitted students from the city of Chicago also increased this year, fueled in part by UChicago Promise, a new initiative that includes a no-loan pledge for admitted students from Chicago. This year’s admitted class includes 117 students from Chicago. Admitted students from Chicago also reflect the growing diversity of the College—more than half of the Chicagoans admitted are African American or Hispanic.

This year’s acceptance rate fell to a record low of 8.8 percent, a product of the increase in applications and the fact that the size of the incoming class is expected to stay constant at around 1,400. For more than a decade, the College has seen a steady increase in applications and a decreasing acceptance rate, as more students worldwide have aspired to attend the College. Applications have more than tripled since 2006, when they stood at 9,538.

On Friday, March 15, John W. Boyer, dean of the College, pushed the computer key that sent admission notices to students around the world, asking them to check their online application files. Many early applicants already had received their decisions in December. Boyer said the continuing growth of interest in the College suggests that its intellectual heritage is more vital than ever in the 21st century.

“The College today is a source of enormous pride for our institution, and it’s a national model for an immensely valuable approach to education,” Boyer said. “We attract students who prize intellectual risk-taking, and who seek out a college experience that is at once rigorous and deeply relevant to success in the wider world.”

Affirming the value of small classes

Boyer noted that the rise in applications also means the College has to turn away larger numbers of excellent students. While such decisions are difficult, he stressed the value of keeping the College relatively small, maintaining its crucial mission as a liberal arts college within a national research university. Class sizes continue to be capped at 20 students for Core courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Civilization Studies.

“Small class sizes are important because so much of the academic culture of our campus has come from intense interactions between faculty and students within our curriculum,” Boyer said. “The intimacy of our educational project is essential to the task of training students in the skills of a scholar and empowering them for life. It gives our campus an honesty and openness to talking about hard and complex ideas, and listening to other points of view.”

New academic initiatives in the College also helped fuel this year’s growth in applications. The acclaimed Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts officially launched in October 2012, creating a new hub of artistic performance and theory for the city and for groups across campus. The Institute for Molecular Engineering is creating more opportunities for students with interests in the sciences and engineering. And the Institute of Politics has set an ambitious pace since its official launch in January 2013, with events that have included a prominent forum on national gun policy and a dialogue between Inaugural Director David Axelrod and former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Growing opportunities for financial aid are helping attract qualified students of all backgrounds and financial means. One-fifth of UChicago students now benefit from the Odyssey Scholarships, which reduce or eliminate loans for students from families with incomes of less than $90,000. UChicago Promise already is having an impact by waiving application fees for students from the city of Chicago; in its first year, the waiver saved Chicago families $89,555 in application fees. In all, UChicago Promise’s removal of student loans from Chicago students’ aid packages is worth up to $2.2 million this year alone.

College Admissions will hold numerous events for admitted students in the coming weeks. The deadline for student decisions on admission offers is May 1.