Class of 2003 Boasts 50% Admit Rate to Nation’s Top Universities

Although the number of acceptance letters from public colleges and universities declined markedly from figures from previous years, the Phillips Academy Class of 2003 nevertheless enjoyed an outstanding admission rate to some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education. From Yale University to Boston College, this year’s Senior class has the option to matriculate at more than 200 different universities—a total roughly similar to the results of past years. Moreover, admission rates to prominent Ivy League universities rose slightly over the past year, with more than 100 acceptance letters sent to Andover students from those eight schools. “Despite some discrepancies,” Director of College Counseling John Anderson commented, “it has been a fairly typical year for college admissions [for Andover students].” By far the most popular choice for Andover Seniors this year, Yale University received 87 applications from Academy Hill. Despite the school’s popularity on campus, only 15 of the students that applied gained acceptance, while six were wait-listed and the remaining 66 denied admission. Results proved similar at other perennially popular schools, such as Harvard University, where 17 out of 72 Andover applicants were accepted to the college’s incoming freshman class. Despite the large numbers of rejected applicants, the Academy nevertheless maintains one of the strongest Ivy League admissions rates in the country. Emerging as the school that admitted more Andover students than any other this year, Boston College granted admission to nearly 30 Seniors. Georgetown University, which held the title of “most accepted college” last year, achieved similarly extraordinary results this time around, accepting 24 students out of the 64 that applied. Statistics show that Andover students have remained confident in applying to international colleges, even though the conflict in the Middle East continues. Explaining that application rates to such universities were “mostly the same,” Mr. Anderson also noted that Seniors continued to apply in force to institutions such as St. Andrews, the Scottish university that accepted eight out of ten applications from Andover this year. Seniors also sought admission at various colleges throughout England, Canada, and France, among other countries. Acknowledging a trend that has become very apparent in application data from year’s past, Mr. Anderson noted that more Andover students applied for admission “to large, urban universities [instead of] smaller, rural colleges.” Although Mr. Anderson commented that smaller colleges can possess exciting social life opportunities for students, he said that most Seniors equate a fun college experience with large institutions located in and around major cities around the United States. Though admission to private colleges remained constant for Andover seniors, the Class of 2003 found increased difficulty in gaining acceptance to the nation’s major public universities. According to Mr. Anderson, the drop in admissions to these schools stems from heightened competition for spots because of extensive advertising by the institutions and the weak condition of the American economy. As tuition at public colleges is often less than that of private schools, many families turn to state-run institutions for an affordable education. “[Admissions] to public universities have been harder than in years past,” Mr. Anderson said, “Many people are looking to public colleges as an affordable alternative.” Of particular note, the University of California rejected a surprising number of Andover Seniors, with only one out of 11 applicants accepted at the institution’s Los Angeles campus. The most pressing issue facing college admissions today has been the ongoing debate over the Early Decision (ED) policies many universities sponsor. Students who apply by ED to a school are bound to attend that institution if accepted–a fact that has troubled many college deans and trustees. Recently, Harvard, Yale, the University of North Carolina, and Stanford University have all suspended their ED procedures and have adopted the more liberal Early Action (EA) program to allows students to apply early without a binding contract to attend the school. Although the mounting controversy over the issue of early application has dominated national headlines over the last few years, Mr. Anderson said that Andover students had not been considerably influenced by the changes, commenting, “It will be interesting to see how things unfold next year.” Overall, Andover Seniors submitted an average of eight applications over the course of their college admissions process–a figure that, according to the CCO, compares to that of years past. The admission statistics for the Class of 2003 are of particular interest to Mr. Anderson, who is in his first year as Director of College Counseling after spending nearly 25 years working in the Admissions Office at Kenyon College. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the year,” Mr. Anderson said. “It has been a very rewarding experience working with my counselees, and all of my colleagues have provided such enlightening insight and experiences.” In preparation for the rigors of the Andover position, Mr. Anderson visited a number of colleges around the country, gaining valuable insight in the application process on the other side of the admissions desk. His travels included spending a day with the Harvard University admissions committee to gauge how selective colleges view applicants from one of the nation’s oldest boarding schools. “When one sits on the admissions side of the desk, one usually doesn’t realize how much students invest into their applications; seeing how interested they were in the process was a very pleasant surprise,” Mr. Anderson added. This year has proven to be a record one for many colleges and universities across the country. At competitive Amherst College, applications rose over eight percent, while Brown University chose from its highest applicant pool ever. With over 33,000 applications, New York University led the applicant statistics of American private colleges with the largest pool of candidates in the nation. “Overall, the Class of 2003 did very well this year, and I think the entire Phillips Academy community should be very pleased,” Mr. Anderson said.