Applications surge, echoing US trend
Like many colleges across the nation, Washington University has witnessed a steady increase in applications in recent years. This is the first year, however, that the percentage increase occurred in double digits. It was also almost double last year’s 7.94 percent rise.
At 15.5 percent, Washington University’s application increase for the class entering in fall 2011 was the 14th highest in the nation when ranked among 93 top universities such as Harvard, New York and Tufts universities and Harvey Mudd and Davidson colleges, according to data reported in The New York Times’ The Choice blog.
Applications rose from 24,939 last year to 28,823 this year.
Despite the increase in applications, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions said it was aiming to keep enrollment lower than last year’s entering class.
The diversity of applicants has not changed.
“As in previous years, the applications come from all over the country and the world,” Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions, wrote in an e-mail to Student Life. “Other than the increase over last year, we haven’t noticed any unusual trends or changes. Even with the increase, we hope to release the decision letters by April 1 at the latest.”
This year’s percentage change in applications across top universities varied from a drop of 13.36 percent at Tulane University to a rise of 47.38 percent at Trinity College, according to the same data from The New York Times.
The surge in applications to some universities, such as Columbia University (32 percent) and the University of Michigan (18 percent), reflects those institutions’ move to accept the Common Application beginning this year.
Washington University has accepted the Common Application for years, meaning its increase in applications occurred for other reasons.
Junior Robert Awh said he suspected the rise occurred because the University has more name recognition.
“It means that people are finally recognizing the Wash. U. name,” he said. “That’s important to me because it means that over time my degree is going to have more value. That’s one thing about Wash. U.—that you don’t get the same name [recognition] as similarly ranked schools like Cornell and Vanderbilt.”
Sophomore Andrew Rebhorn speculated that applications increased so much because the University has received positive reviews.
“The increase is likely due to positive responses it gets in both academics and quality of life,” Rebhorn said. “In the college books that people look at, Wash. U. gets really good reviews.”
Last year, the Princeton Review ranked Washington University fourth in “Quality of Life,” 10th in “Best Campus Food” and 10th in “Dorms like Palaces.”
With additional reporting by Michael Tabb.