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Minority Admits Recover Even As Selectivity Rises

By Benjamin P. Gleitzman
STAFF REPORTER

Applying to college is a tricky business, and it isn’t getting any easier at MIT. The Institute’s number of early applicants jumped 10 percent from 2,799 to 3,098 this year, while only 12 percent, or 377 students, were admitted, continuing a long-term increase in selectivity.

This year also marks a success for the Admissions office, which doubled the percentage of admitted under-represented minorities at MIT.

After the Class of 2009 had only 14 percent under-represented minorities, wrote Marilee Jones in an e-mail, “we redoubled our recruitment efforts for this cycle. We’ve reorganized our staff and added a few top admissions officers from competitor schools.” The Classes of 2006–2008 had about 20 percent, making this year’s statistic of 27 percent a recent record.

Jones said that the spike in the total number of applications is a result of “our increased recruitment practices, our big presence in cyberspace with our MyMIT site and the blogs within it, and also the early application and early decision rules of our main competitor universities, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and Caltech.”

MIT operates under an early action program, a nonbinding commitment that allows students to freely apply to multiple colleges and receive a decision before the regular admissions process. In 2003 Harvard, Stanford, and Yale switched to single-choice early action, a nonbinding agreement that does not allow applicants to apply to other schools’ early admissions programs.

All other Ivy League colleges offer early decision programs, which are both binding and do not allow applications to other colleges.

This year’s admitted early applicants will make up about 30 percent of the Class of 2010, currently 53 percent male and 47 percent female, mirroring 2009’s 53/47 split. Almost three-fourths hail from public schools, representing 44 states and 7 foreign countries. A total of 76 percent have been the president or captain of a club or organization, and 16 percent have founded one.

Of the 3,098 applicants, 2,371 were deferred and 216 denied admission, along with 131 who were deferred because they did not complete the application.

Concerns about overcrowding and the rising percentage of students admitted who matriculate were both factors in this year’s decreased percentage of early action admits, which has dropped 21 percentage points over ten years.

“Our yield has been going up for the past three years because we’ve made that a goal,” Jones said. “We’ve really been focusing on admitting students who are the best match for us and are making an effort not to be overly driven by SAT scores and grades. Match is everything if students are to be happy and thrive at MIT.”

“As the yield goes up and the applicant pool increases in size,” she said, “we are forced to admit fewer students and it is true agony for our staff to turn away more and more extraordinary students each year.”

Jones pointed toward MyMIT as one cause of the increase in the 2010 early applicant pool.

“I give all the credit to our in-house bloggers and rock stars, Matt McGann and Ben Jones,” she said. “They do an extraordinary job of connecting with students and most importantly, telling the truth about what we do. There is no other college or university with such a presence out there in the blogosphere and I’m proud to represent a staff who are setting the standard.”

Jones made her debut appearance on the MITBlogs’ Web site on Monday discussing the stress that many students feel while applying to college, citing her own daughter’s college application process as an example.

Jones’ post, as well as select Class of 2010 information can be found at http://tim.mitblogs.com/ and http://matt.mitblogs.com/, respectively.