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MIT to Admit Fewer Freshmen To Ensure Smaller Class Sizes

By Brian Loux

NEWS EDITOR

MIT is taking extra precautions in its undergraduate admissions policies this year to ensure that the incoming Class of 2006 does not exceed 1000 students. Fewer bids will be sent out to prospective freshmen starting this year in hopes of maintaining this number.

“We will do everything possible not to overshoot this year,” said Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine.

The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation decided to reduce the number of incoming freshmen to 1000 students beginning with the class of 2004. While this number was overshot slightly for 2004, the class of 2005 had thirty more students than planned. Although this represents a small percentage of the class, this overflow of freshmen exacerbated the already fragile crowding situation on campus.

However, while the class will consist of 1000 students, 20 of the slots have been set aside for transfer students. “In essence, the freshman target goes down by 20 from original thinking,” said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict.

Smaller classes to be maintained

Administrators are taking steps to make certain that next year’s class will not be overcrowded, and to avoid future problems, the administration will maintain freshman class sizes of 1000 for the indefinite future.

“The goal was not to diminish the freshman class until Simmons was built,” Benedict said. “Even with Simmons built, we don’t have enough spaces in our undergraduate halls to accommodate all the undergrads that want on-campus housing.”

In recent years, the long-term size of the freshman class has remained in question. Many assumed that student numbers would bounce back after the move of freshman onto campus had settled.

However, it now appears that future freshman classes will remain around 1000 students instead of the 1050 from five years ago.

“Long term, we believe that a class size of about 1000 will fit well with our available housing and with our capacity for providing a quality education for those students,” Redwine said.

How the admissions changes will affect student life at MIT remains to be seen. “Overall, I think it won’t have a day to day student impact,” said Undergraduate Administration President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02. “But we don’t know what impact it will have on the FSILG community.”

MIT gets higher matriculant yield

If factors continue on their present trends, the class of 2006 will most likely trump 2005 as the most selective class in MIT history.

“We overshot the target last year because of fewer than expected ‘melts’ over the summer,” Redwine said. He defined “melts” as those students who reply to the acceptance letter but decide not to come in the fall.

This could be quite a challenge to the admissions staff, as applications to MIT and the subsequent acceptance rates have risen in recent years.

“MIT seems to be becoming more popular,” Benedict said. “Students in the past who wouldn’t show up in September are now showing up.”

Regular action applicants will be notified of their admission decision on the first of April.

Dean for Admissions Marilee Jones could not be reached for comment.

Tuition may rise more than usual

Students might see a sharper jump in tuition than usual in the coming year. When MIT decided to decrease the number of acceptances in 2000, tuition rose by $1,050. The usual yearly increase for the past ten years has been around $900.

However, many other factors will contribute to the cost of tuition, and the recession may eclipse the admissions cut as the guiding factor this year.

“From the perspective of MIT’s finances, improving the comfort of students vastly exceeds the relatively insignificant amount of tuition money lost with a marginally smaller class size,” Devereaux said.