Fewer students applied to UNC by the Nov. 15 early action deadline than had applied to the University by this time last year, according to preliminary numbers from undergraduate admissions officials.
UNC offered only two deadlines this year: the early action deadline, Nov. 15, and the regular deadline, Jan. 15.
The binding early decision deadline of Oct. 15 was abolished with much fanfare last year and took effect for this fall’s applicant pool.
Stephen Farmer, senior associate director of admissions, said 11,035 students applied early decision and early action to UNC last year.
Of these students, 1,848 applied early decision. The remaining 9,187 applied early action, a process that allows students to apply early and get an earlier response from the University.
So far, this year’s numbers indicate that 9,036 students have applied for the Nov. 15 early action deadline.
The difference between the numbers seems to be the number of early decision applicants, said Jerry Lucido, director of undergraduate admissions.
“It sounds like the current numbers are roughly different (because of) the early decision deadline,” he said.
Last spring, UNC was the first major public university to abandon the early decision program, saying it put too much pressure on high school seniors.
Yale and Stanford universities also recently decided to drop their early decision deadlines, but their changes will not take effect until next fall.
Lucido said it was difficult to be the first institution to drop the early decision deadline. “Sometimes when you lead, there is some risk involved. But it will be a short-run risk,” he said.
Losing early decision applicants to other schools was a major concern admissions officials expressed when UNC first dropped the program. But Lucido said it is too early to draw any definite conclusions. “I don’t know if there is a real relationship there other than the fact that a deadline tells a student to do something.”
Lucido said that some more applications still are in the mail but that overall the data indicates a drop in applicants for the fall deadline.
Despite a surge in applications nationally, Lucido is confident the applicant pool will remain strong even if it is smaller.
“My guess is that the students who would have applied early decision to UNC either are already in the pool or know they are going to apply to UNC and are just taking their time on the application,” he said.
Lucido said having one less deadline would be the only reason there are fewer applicants because in all other areas of admissions — like recruitment efforts — the University has improved. “We’ve done more things,” he said. “We’ve worked even harder than a year ago.”
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