The size of the freshman class will increase next year, which is admittedly good news for the 12,443 applicants to the Class of 2011. Nearly 60 more students were admitted this year, but because the number of applicants also increased, the acceptance rate fell to a record-low 12.3 percent for the Class of 2011.
The 1,533 admitted students span 50 states and 66 countries. Forty-eight percent of those admitted are women and 24 percent are underrepresented minorities. Of students ranked in their high schools, 49 percent are valedictorians and 90 percent are in the top five percent of their class.
Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones said that the target size for the freshman class has increased from 1,005 to 1,020. The admissions office is anticipating a yield of 66.5 percent, which would be similar to last year's yield, allowing them to admit 10 of the 500-600 students who have been placed on the waitlist.
"It was very, very hard to select such a small number of students in such a large and stellar applicant pool. It gets worse that way every year as applications grow," Jones wrote in an e-mail.
Admit rate higher for women
Though exact data for this year are not currently available, Jones said that the ratio of male to female applicants and the relative acceptance rates for each group were about the same as last year's. Those numbers show that the acceptance rate for women was nearly 26 percent for women and 10 percent for men. The acceptance rate for all applicants was 13 percent, with the number of male applicants nearly tripling the number of female applicants. Data from the classes of 2008 and 2009 showed similar trends, and can be found in the table below.
Jones said that the higher acceptance rate for women reflects fewer female applicants. Jones said it would be "misleading" to say that standards differ for accepting women into MIT. "Women don't apply in the same numbers as men do. It's a cultural thing," Jones said. "The ones who do, they're just really strong" and "very desirable types of candidates," while the male applicant pool has "wider ranges," she said. Jones did not know whether the ratio of males to females would change if the number of female applicants increased.
Jones said that MIT does not have quotas for the number of male or female students accepted and that the only quotas the admissions office employs are for international students. Foreign student admissions are limited to eight percent of the incoming class.
Jones, who has worked in the admissions office since 1979, said that MIT tries to actively recruit populations that are underrepresented in the applicant pool, that can vary widely from year to year. Gender, however, has always been an issue, she said, and "it continues to be true." When Jones first arrived at MIT the undergraduate population was 17 percent female. That number rose to 39 percent by 1998 when Jones was named Dean of Admissions. The Class of 2010, which entered last fall, was 45 percent female.
Jones said that MIT continues to recruit women and other groups through a variety of methods, including directly contacting target students that have good standardized test scores. We "try to get as many different people to come to MIT" from many different places, Jones said. "The problems of the world need to be solved by people who are from those places," she said.
Increase in class size planned
Jones is a member of the Enrollment Management Group, a committee of administrators with ties to undergraduate education. The committee, which reports to President Hockfield, recently recommended an increase in the size of the incoming class. Although there was a slight increase in the incoming class size, a large increase will come following the conversion of Ashdown House into an undergraduate residence.
Jones, however, suggests caution in increasing the class size. She said admitting more students is a "thin line to walk," stating that MIT should take care to ensure the best opportunities and access to resources for all students. Jones doesn't think the increasing class size will decrease MIT's selectivity and predicts that within three years the acceptance rate will fall to Yale's recent level of 8 percent.
Jones, however, said that she doesn't foresee the class size reaching over 1,100 students. "We're not there yet," she said.