Applications skyrocket for class of 2010

Alessandro Roco

Spring is in the air. As the trees once again blossom and students bring back their t-shirts and plaid shorts from Easter break, everyone knows one thing for sure: the school year is coming to an end.

With that seniors are taking a last glimpse of their lives at Villanova, but as seniors look to leave their lasting impression, the incoming freshman class for this fall has already begun creating its own image.

For the incoming class of 2010, the University had received 12,892 applications, a record high for the University and a 24 percent increase from last year’s total of 10,394.

From the total applicant pool, 5,350 high school seniors were offered admission, almost the same exact number as last year (5,538 were offered admission last year).

This dropped the University admissions rate to 41.5 percent, a substantial change from the slightly over 50 percent acceptance rate for last year’s class.

The goal, according to both George Walter, associate dean of enrollment management, and Michael Gaynor, director of University admissions, is to shoot for a target goal of 1,615 students to represent the incoming freshman class.

“We don’t want to be labeled as the office of rejection, but a major goal of ours is to see a drop in the admissions rate,” Gaynor said. “It shows that even more qualified and gifted students are applying to the school.”

However, even more shocking than the overall number of applications is the sudden rise of applications from international and minority students.

For the past several years, the University has made a concerted effort to become a more widely diverse campus and shed its “Vanilla-nova” image. This year, the undergraduate admissions office seemed to succeed in its effort as it saw a 40 percent increase in applications from African-Americans (509), Hispanic-Americans (754), Native-Americans (22) and Asian-Americans (891).

The University received applications from 47 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But the major statistic for the admissions office, according to Gaynor, is the 70+ countries that were also represented in the admissions process.

“We received 113 applications from the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an astounding number,” Gaynor said. “What was also fascinating was that we received first time applications from students in seven different countries, such as Sudan, Oman, Lithuania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro.”

“While we sometimes receive transfer applications from students in these countries, this is the first time students have applied here right out of high school,” he added.

Gaynor added that the admissions office has already received registration forms and deposit forms from students “as far as Belgium, El Salvador, Germany and Panama.”

Walter said a major reason for the increase in admissions, not just University-wide, but for minority and international students specifically, is the University’s usage of the Common Application.

He said that because Villanova now uses the Common App, “more people know about our university, and we are getting more coverage.”

He also added that several on- and off-campus events, such as the amplified press coverage of the men’s basketball team, the Special Olympics program, the One Book program and the University’s community-based atmosphere, contributed to the sharp increase.

When considering students for admission, Walter said the major factors for consideration are high school performance, SAT scores and overall high school activities.

For the incoming class, the middle 50 percent range of SAT scores was 1260-1400, almost identical to that of last year’s class.

Though the new SAT is based on a 2400 point scale, Walter said, “We use the writing section as a secondary indicator for admission because, since this is the first year of the new SAT, there is no baseline to distinguish among the scores.”

Though SAT scores remained about the same, the middle 50 percent range of the applicants’ high school GPA did rise, however, to 3.67-4.03, based on a 4.0 scale.

The College of Arts and Sciences received a total of 7,815 applications, the College of Commerce and Finance received 3,136 applications, the College of Engineering received 1,336 applications and the College of Nursing received 605 applications.

The ratio of males and females who applied and were accepted was about one to one, (6,010 males compared to 6,882 females).

Walter said that the University does make a concerted effort to make sure that there is a balance between the gender enrollment.

Gaynor said that he is overjoyed at the amount of applications the University received and is glad to receive applications from so many qualified applicants.

“This is clearly the most gifted group of students in the University’s history. It is truly a blessing to have so many fine high school students apply, and I’m honored by those that we eventually admitted,” he said. “Even though we received upwards of 13,000 applications, I’m proud of our admissions staff because we were still able to give each and every application the attention it deserved and make it a fair and equitable process for everyone.

“Let’s face it, we also hold these students’ futures in our hands,” he added. He also added that, unlike several other schools, Villanova is one that tried to present each and every application in the most favorable light possible.

“We would even e-mail prospectives back, requesting additional information so that when their application was presented to the admissions committee, we would be able to make the best decision we could,” Gaynor said.

While the sudden influx in applications hit the University with more difficult decisions to make, Walter said, “We were still able to make sure that we were in full control of the admissions process and that we accepted those students who were both qualified and showed a true desire to come to Villanova.”