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The number of undergraduate early action applicants has again increased, by about 14 percent over last year. Though the admissions office does not have an exact tally yet, they predict that there will be nearly 6,500 early applications, which would be 800 more than last year’s 5,684.

The increase in applications comes even as the number of graduating high school seniors held steady this past year. “As I traveled around the country this fall, I found more and more young people who are aware of MIT, and who sincerely want to be a part of our community. They are attracted to the innovative spirit and the excitement of engaging with the worlds most pressing problems,” said Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions. “And so we have seen an increase in applications despite the fact that the number of high school graduates in this country has leveled off.”

In the past five years, the number of students applying early action to MIT has increased at a steady clip, in part because of more students graduating high school, and in part because MIT has in recent years stepped up its minority recruiting efforts. In 2008, it partnered with non-profit QuestBridge to increase the number of minority students who apply early.

As a result of the increase in applications, Schmill said the early action admissions rate would likely decrease. However, he said the opening of new undergraduate dormitory Maseeh Hall “should mitigate the decrease somewhat.”

According to the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, the target undergraduate enrollment will increase by 250, from 4,250 to 4,500, over the next four years, thanks to Maseeh Hall.

Schmill said that it is too early to tell what will happen to the admissions rate for regular decision applicants. “I know that more and more students are applying early action or early decision somewhere, and so I presume some of our increase is simply a shifting from the regular decision round to early action,” Schmill said.

While the new dining plan has become this semester’s hot-button issue for undergraduates, Schmill said the plan might become a plus for MIT when accepted students start weighing their choices. “I know that this is controversial right now in the student body, but I think with prospective students the new dining plan will be seen as a positive,” Schmill said. “I absolutely know that will be true for the parents of prospective students, but I think it true for the new students as well.”