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Admission Tougher For 2004

Reduced Class Size Adds to Competition

By Laura McGrath Moulton

The competition to gain entrance to MIT was fiercer than ever this year, with only 15 percent of applicants earning admission, making the class of 2004 the most selective in MIT history.

This year’s applicant pool of 10,681 applicants was also the largest ever, an increase of 17 percent over last year’s pool.

“We had a strong applicant pool. There were people not admitted this year who would have been admitted in past years,” said Betty S. Johnson, Associate Director of Admissions.

A combination of factors contributed to the competitiveness this year, according to Johnson, including a reduced freshmen class size, increasing yields and a talented applicant pool.

Class size, yields restrict admissions

In an effort to relieve the housing crunch, MIT decided this year to reduce its freshmen class size to 1,000 students. As a result, only 1,604 students were admitted to the class of 2004.

Increasing yields -- the percentage of admitted students choosing to attend MIT -- also contributed to the smaller number of students admitted this year.

“Last year we had a yield of 60 percent, and ... that was up by 5 percent” from the previous year, Johnson said. “We do anticipate a higher yield” this year, she said.

Johnson said she expects fewer than 1,000 students to choose MIT, allowing the admissions office to use the waiting list to achieve the 1,000 student goal.

‘Good matches’ for MIT chosen

Johnson said that the strength of the applicant pool also made choosing the class of 2004 very difficult.

“We were trying to pick people who would be good matches for MIT, who best fit the culture of MIT,” Johnson said.

“We were looking for people who had done something in high school that had an MIT-ness about it,” such as being involved in research or pursuing an interest at an unusually high level, Johnson said.

The composition of the admitted students does not differ greatly from recent years. Male students make up 52 percent of admitted students this year, Johnson said. She said that the percentage of underrepresented minorities was consistent with past years at 18 percent.

Students were admitted from all 50 states and 61 countries, Johnson said. The admitted class includes 105 international students.