Applicant rate rises

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

This year, Emerson received 5,015 applications from stressed high school seniors seeking approval, 93 more than last year, according to Director of Admissions Sara Ramirez.,Despite a small increase in applicants vying for a spot at Emerson, the college hasn't been attracting the massive throngs of hopeful students seen by competing institutions.

This year, Emerson received 5,015 applications from stressed high school seniors seeking approval, 93 more than last year, according to Director of Admissions Sara Ramirez.

Less than half of these, 2,250, received the proverbial fat envelope, while 878 applicants were waitlisted. The remaining 1,746 were rejected.

In addition to the processed applications, every year there are applications with missing parts that cannot be considered for admission. This year, 141 such submissions were received.

While there are several hundred students on the wait list, very few will likely be accepted, if past years are any indication.

Last year, only 10 students ended up at Emerson from the waitlist of 1,087. Deciding how many to accept comes from the class size expectations of the Office of Admissions, which anticipates each class to be made up of about 750 students.

Some competing colleges and universities fared better than Emerson, with bigger increases in numbers of applicants and lower admissions rates.

In a press release from Northeastern, the university stated it saw a 12 percent increase over last year's applications, and for the first time in the history of the institution the number of applicants topped 30,000. According to an April 12 Boston Globe article, Northeastern accepted only 39 percent of these students, compared with the 85 percent of applicants they accepted 12 years ago.

Ithaca College's Associate Director of Media Relations Dave Maley said this year had the biggest application pool the college has ever seen. There were 12,461 applications from high school seniors. He said that no other statistics were available for the school's admission rates.

Boston College and Syracuse University, two other colleges in competition with Emerson, have yet to fully release their admission statistics. According to the same Boston Globe article, Boston College accepted only 27 percent of its applicants.

Harriet Brand, public relations director for The Princeton Review, said she has seen an increase in applicants in most of the schools that she deals with. She attributes the influx to the use of the Internet.

"Before the Internet, people did their applications by hand. It was long and tedious," Brand said. "Students can apply online now and have all of their information automatically duplicated without effort."

This year also marks the second highest number of applications that Emerson has received, second only to the current sophomore class. However, it was only a 1.2 percent increase over last year.

"It's hard to increase every year," said Ramirez. "Going up and down is not uncommon."

Assistant Director of Admissions, Sara Brookshire said she saw a steady upswing in the number of applications in the past five years.

The Office of Admissions expects even more when Emerson changes over to the common application, a form that is accepted by almost 300 colleges in the U.S. next year.

Emerson will have supplements in the form of short answer questions that will be required in addition to the application.

"We look for well-rounded students," Brookshire said. "Also, rigor of their curriculum, an upward trend in their grades, good essays and recommendation letters. But we really take it on a case-by-case basis."

According to Brookshire the admissions team spends at least 20 minutes reading and analyzing each application.

"I think that we will get more after we use the common app," said Brookshire. "More and more people are just going to check the box. We are still a small school and I'm not sure how we will handle that. I anticipate that we will have to reject more students."

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Emerson's acceptance rate for this year hovers around 46 percent. Almost one-third of all interested students are from the New England area, with 20 percent of those from Massachusetts.

The average SAT scores were the same as last year with a median range of 1070-1270.

The two departments receiving the most applicants were the department of Visual and Media Arts, followed shortly by the Performing Arts department, according to Eric Sykes, director of institutional research.

Maria Gotay, a high school senior and prospective Writing, Literature and Publishing student from Hawaii, said she is looking at Emerson for its focused majors and location.

"There is a whole lot more personal attention here," Gotay said. "That's one of the reasons I applied."

One hundred and twenty international students applied this year, but despite the overall higher interest, the number of international applications has gone down in recent years according to Sykes.

"The number of international applicants has been in decline nationwide since 9/11 and has only just reached a stabilization point this year," Sykes said. "There have been a number of articles on this phenomenon and Emerson has followed a nearly identical trend."

Despite the small jump in the number of applicants this year the college thinks that the trend will remain.

"We are confident that the growth will continue," Ramirez said.