The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 23rd

More Students Apply to Urban Universities

In spite of safety concerns, applicant numbers rose this year at both urban and rural universities nationwide.

A survey released two weeks after the terrorist attacks by Moody's Investors Service predicted that students likely would elect to attend institutions closer to home and away from major cities.

But admissions officers at universities in urban areas including Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., now say that prediction has not come to fruition.

In September, University of Chicago's Dean of Enrollment Michael Behnke expressed concerns that the number of applications at that institution might drop because potential applicants would feel unsafe living in a major city like Chicago.

But during the last two months, Behnke said just the opposite has happened -- the school has been flooded with applicants. In fact, he said the number of early decision applications has increased by 30 percent over last year, and the number of applications for the Jan. 1 regular deadline also appears to be higher.

Behnke attributed the increase to several factors, including a direct mailing to potential applicants and a rise in the school's U.S. News & World Report ranking.

While admissions officers at urban schools were preparing themselves for a decrease in applications, their counterparts at more rural institutions were expecting a rise in the number of applications as they courted the interest of potential students.

Susan Klopman, dean of admissions and financial aid at Elon University, said there was a 25 percent increase in the number of regular decision applications received by Elon and a 23 percent increase in early decision applications.

Klopman said it was too early to tell precisely why the number of applications appears to have increased across the board, but she said the slowing economy might be one potential explanation.

"Maybe (students) are applying to more places to cover shifting economic times," she said. "From what I've read, students are covering their bases more."

Like Behnke, Klopman added that the increase in applicants at Elon could reflect increased national publicity after the school's climb in the U.S. News rankings.

The terrorists attacks apparently have not even deterred students from applying to schools in Washington and New York, the two major cities where the attacks occurred.

Georgetown University, located in Washington, for example, reported a 7 percent increase over last year in the number of early decision applications it received.

Similarly, Virgil Renzulli, associate vice president for public affairs at Columbia University, which is located in upper Manhattan, said 6 percent more early decision applications came in this year than last.

Renzulli said the terrorist attacks did not deter applicants because most people realize that the events of Sept. 11 were an attack on all U.S. citizens and not merely an assault on the residents of New York City. "I think people know this was not just a New York issue," he said.

In fact, he credited the terrorist attacks with the application increase. "It is my assumption that people are going to want to be a part of the recovery process here."

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