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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Applications jump by 1,300 with new quick decision process

Published: February 11, 2005
Section: News

Over 7,200 applications for admission were received by Brandeis this year, an increase of about 1,300 over last years applicant pool and the largest in the Universitys history. By various means, Brandeis is aggressively recruiting a wider pool of applicants.

Prof. Jerry Cohen (AMST), Chair of the Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, believes this years increase can be attributed in part to the excellent efforts of admissions staff to encourage interest in Brandeis.

One of the methods of increasing enrollment was a new Blue Ribbon Application sent to select students.

We are always trying to widen our reach as we look for qualified students who will not only bring their intelligence, commitment and energy to the campus but who will also add to our diversity, Dean of Admissions Deena Whitfield told the Hoot.

The Blue Ribbon application was distributed to high school seniors, who had already expressed an interest in Brandeis and who we believed met a variety of criteria that include geographic diversity, ethnic diversity, special talents and high achievement, Whitfield said.

The selected students received letters addressed from Whitfield commending them on their achievement and thanking them for, demonstrating an active interest in Brandeis University. The application, obtained by the Hoot, entices applicants with, no application fee. You save $55. No personal statement. Just submit a graded piece of written work. Quick results. Blue Ribbon students are promised a decision by mid-February.

Cohen said that Brandeis was simply following in the footsteps of other institutions. Right now it is critical to see if we can maintain this growth for several years, he said. Brandeis ranking in the annual US News and World Report college survey is based in part on a measure of student selectivity that takes into account the acceptance rate of the University. By encouraging more applicants, the Brandeis acceptance rate, which was 44% for the 2008 class, will go down. Brandeis is currently ranked 32 in the nation in the US News survey. The selectivity index counts for 10% of the ranking.

According to the College Board, Brandeis applicants also express interest in schools like Boston College, Boston University, Brown, and Tufts with acceptance rates of 31%, 52%, 16%, and 20% respectively.

Some critics of the new system believe the Blue Ribbon Applications is a cynical ploy designed merely to increase rejections and improve meaningless scores, but Cohen feels that the new application process will attract more qualified students and increase the value of a Brandeis education by raising Brandeis prestige. Greater ethnic, racial, gender, intellectual, and political diversity, according to Cohen, will be a welcome benefit.