Priorities: Reading All Over the Lines

After ten weeks of bribing a spectacular army of readers (like Patrick O’Neill here) with snacks, I’ve signed almost 4,000 decision letters addressed to students who had applied Early Decision or for Priority Review (PR) notification.

Looking back so far, I’ve discovered exciting (and bruising) results. For context on the “bruising”: Rochester readers have to read 14% more applications than they did a year ago, for a class target that’s 2% smaller. Our admit rate has to decrease, leaving many great students out.

Average GPA for our PR admits: 3.89
Class rank: top 5%
Average SAT: 670-750 Critical Reading, 720-800 Math, 680-740 Writing
The scores are ~50 SAT points (1.5 ACT points) higher than a year ago. About 6% of our applicants took advantage of our “test-flexible” policy.

Scores and grades guide less than half of our decision-making process, and I can say with joy that the PR students show me what matters more: this fall, Rochester will once again enroll its most interesting, diverse Class ever. We received more qualified applications from every area of the US and the world, almost 5,500 different high schools. We have huge (>25%) increases in applications from abroad, in part reflecting our new partnerships with the Worldwide Universities Network, with schools and organizations in China, and with Davis/UWC, MasterCard/African Leadership Academy and AMIDEAST. We have a huge and welcome increase from Hispanic applicants and from the Western states, reflecting our long-term partnerships with the National Hispanic Institute and our full-time offices in Los Angeles and Dallas. We see a huge increase in multiracial applicants where one of the races includes Native American affiliation, reflecting our partnership with College Horizons and some new scholarship programs.

We have a huge increase in applicants and admits interested in engineering, public health, and languages.

I’ve noticed that in addition to completing their applications early, 78% of the PR admits also applied for need-based financial aid (up from 75% of the PR applicants) and 71% had an admission interview (up from 64% of the applicants).

On the other side, our admission readers’ notes include, on average, 220 words about the applicants we didn’t admit, but 265 about the PR admits. Fair overall, but I guess we get ~20% more excited when we want to admit.

PR applicants have great credentials on average, and 76% of those admitted reflected both readers’ consensus, while 24% earned admission through Committee.

Congratulations to our new admits. Now back to reading the 12,000+ Regular Decision applicants for me.

About the author

Jonathan Burdick

I am the Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. I share big admissions news and updates as well as information and statistics about our incoming classes.

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