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Large Number of Early Action Students Admitted

By Venkatesh Satish
Staff Reporter

The number of early action applicants for the Class of 1999 surged to 1,669, a 33 percent increase from last year, according to Director of Admissions Michael C. Behnke.

Behnke expects the number of regular applications to be equally high, which would contribute to a record number of total applications this year.

According to Behnke, a total of 557 students, or 33 percent of the applicant pool, were admitted this year. This signifies a decrease from a 40 percent acceptance rate in 1994, when 503 students were admitted from a pool of 1,247.

Due to the increase in early action applicants, the Admissions Office expects to process a record 8,400 applications, Behnke said. The number eclipses the previous high of 7,437, set in 1988, he said.

A major reason for the increase in applications is the economy, Behnke said. The improved economy has contributed to an "increase in people's confidence about taking out educational loans," he said.

Another factor is that the Admissions Office has "been working for a couple of years to develop an admission communications program using a new video, new publications, and more follow-up in personal mailings. That [system] became complete this year," Behnke said.

The main difference between early action admissions and regular admissions is that "we don't agonize as much on early action. [If] we have to discuss [the applicants], we defer them for later on. If [the application] jumps off the page, then they're in," Behnke said.

The number of female early action applicants increased from 304 last year to 447, Behnke said. While this was not the result of a conscious effort, "our new publications seem to have a better effect on women," in diffusing stereotypes about MIT, he said.

While more women were accepted early this year, the percentage accepted - 38 - was approximately the same as last year, Behnke said.

The number of underrepresented minority students - which includes blacks, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans - who applied for early action increased from 65 last year to 112 this year, according to Behnke.

The number admitted increased from 45 to 61. Minorities comprise 11 percent of those who were admitted through early action this year, he said.

One reason for the rise in minority applicants is the addition of two admissions staff members who will concentrate on following talented minority students, Behnke said. This is the first full year that both Roland M. Allen, associate director of admissions, and Zaragoza A. Guerra III, assistant director of admissions, have worked on such recruiting, Behnke said.

Allen and Zaragoza "travel a great deal. Where there are talented minority students, we try to be there," Behnke said. Direct mail follow-up is particularly used to encourage minority students to apply, he added.

Some ways in which the Admissions Office pursues those who are admitted early include telethons and making lists of admitted students available to current students, allowing them to contact these high school seniors.