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Early Action Pool Up from Last Year

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Staff Reporter

The number of early action applicants for the Class of 2001 swelled to 1,900, a nine percent increase from last year, according to Associate Director of Admissions Elizabeth S. Johnson.

A total of 524 students - or 27 percent - of the total applicant pool were admitted early this year, Johnson said. Last year, 511 students were admitted under early action.

The percentage of early action applicants accepted has been decreasing in recent years. "We are very conservative in accepting early action [applicants],"Johnson said.

Underrepresented minority early action applicants - who include blacks, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans - totaled 117, Johnson said.

Of them, 59 were accepted this year, compared to 60 last year. Minorities compose 11 percent of those admitted through early action this year, Johnson said.

Black acceptances dropped about a third, from 23 to 15, Johnson said. Other minority groups experienced only small changes.

The number of women accepted under the early action program increased this year to 218 from 199 last year. Women make up 42 percent of this year's admitted pool, compared to 39 percent last year, Johnson said.

These trends may or may not continue through the regular decision process, Johnson said. The Admissions Office has not yet finished processing all regular decision applications, she added.

SAT scores similar to last year

The mean SATscore of students admitted under the early action plan this year is similar to last year, Johnson said.

The mean math SATscore of admitted students decreased this year from 764 to 763. Meanwhile, the mean SATverbal score increased to 726 from 722, Johnson said.

This is the second year that students have been applying to MIT with "recentered" standardized test scores. Scores were recentered around a higher mean starting in April 1995 after the test was redesigned.

Applicants were asked to choose an intended major as part of the application. Electrical engineering and computer science was chosen by 22 percent of accepted early action applicants, Johnson said.

Biology was the second most popular, with 13 percent of accepted applicants choosing it, Johnson said. An additional 74 students listed "engineering" as their major of choice, she said.

New programs affect admissions

The change from early action to early decision programs of some colleges in recent years has changed the MITadmission process as more students choose to apply to MIT's non-binding early action program, Johnson said.

Most Ivy League schools - which are MIT's maincompetition for potential students - have moved to a binding early decision program in recent years. Such a program requires students to attend their first choice school if admitted in December.

The early action plan - in use at MIT, Harvard University, and Brown University, among other schools - allows accepted students to apply to other colleges even after being accepted in December. Accepted students do not have to respond to offers of admission until May 1.

As a result of the changes, more students are applying to MITunder the early action plan, Johnson said. "It shifts our whole pool around, and our regular pool may be smaller than usual," she said.

Nonetheless, the number of accepted students has not increased significantly. "We are very conservative in early actions. In many cases, we prefer to see what the whole pool looks like" before admitting students, Johnson said.

As a result, students admitted under early action are usually stronger than students admitted under regular decision, Johnson said.

Students to receive calls, mailings

The Admissions Office will continue sending material to accepted early action applicants in attempts to keep them interested in attending MITin the fall, Johnson said.

"We have sent holiday greetings to the admitted students,"Johnson said. The Admissions Office will later be mailing admitted students an e-mail address that they can use to ask faculty or appropriate staff members questions about MIT. The office will also contact many accepted students in the annual Independent Activities Periodtelethon on Jan. 17, Johnson said.

Those who apply under early action "are people who are better matches for MIT,"Johnson said. "They're motivated to come here."

As a result, a higher percentage of early action admittees choose to attend MIT than regular action admittees. Last year, 68 percent of those accepted under early action chose to come to MIT, compared to 55 percent overall, Johnson said.