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Cornell University Class of 2007

2007admitrateEARLY DECISION

More than one third of the future Class of 2007 was filled in December 2002 as 1,110 high school seniors were granted admission under Cornell's early decision program.

This year, the admissions office evaluated a record 2,729 early decision applications, which is approximately a 3 percent increase over last year. Cornell accepted 40.7 percent of these candidates to fill up approximately 37 percent of the class.

Preliminary data indicate an almost equal gender balance: 48.1 percent female, and 51.9 percent male.

Underrepresented minorities form 6.7 percent of the accepted early decision class. As for regional variation, 37.5 percent of accepted students are from New York State. Candidates from mid-Atlantic followed at a close second, forming 27.2 percent of the early decision class.

The acceptance rate drops significantly in the regular round. Last year, the regular decision admission rate was 24.35 percent and is expected to remain low this year.

Cornell notifies high school seniors of their acceptance status four months before the regular decisions are made. Students must pay a reward for this peace of mind: applicants accepted under early decision must withdraw all pending applications to other universities and enroll at Cornell. This is in contrast to non-binding early action programs, where an accepted candidate is allowed to apply and enroll elsewhere. Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and California Institute of Technology are among the few schools offering non-binding early action.

The early decision system has come under fire recently by some college administrators for placing undue stress on applicants. The system's critics also argue that early decision discriminates against disadvantaged students (particularly minorities) who typically wait to compare financial aid packages. Yale and Stanford universities therefore announced in the fall that they will abandon early decision and adopt early action for the Class of 2008.

In contrast, Brown University last year switched from early action to early decision, a move which resulted in a sharp drop in application numbers.


While early decision policies are still widely used by most competitive colleges, such policies now seem antiquated compared to the early action policies a growing number of Cornell's peer institutions have adopted.

Under early action, the applicant submits his or her application in the fall and can be offered admission earlier than regular deadline applicants, but doesn't have to make a firm commitment to the university as they would under early decision.

At a convention last fall of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, high school guidance counselors and college admissions officers raised criticisms that under such processes, many students are forced to prematurely decide which college they will attend.

Such criticisms led big name universities like Stanford and Yale to commit to ending their early decision programs and adopt early action policies.

Cornell is expected to make a statement in Spring 2003 regarding the future of the University's early decision policy.

One of the obvious downsides of eliminating the University's early decision process is that without a firm commitment from students admitted early, the University runs the risk of having to admit more students per year under regular decision in order to ensure a full enrollment.


Regular Decision

Cornell received 20,442 applications for admission for the Class of 2007. 2,730 of the applicants applied Early Decision and 17,712 students applied Regular Decision. The overall University acceptance rate was 31 percent this year.

The total applications received (20,442) represents a decline of five percent from last year. Cornell denied admission to 50 percent of the students who applied and wait listed 13 percent of the applicants.

While there was a drop in the total number of applications, there was a two-percent increase in the number of Early Decision applications.

Applications were down in four of the seven undergraduate colleges this year, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and the College of Human Ecology. Applications were up in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.