Freshmen Michael Dixon (left) and Malik Lewis say that their visits with the BC community during senior year of high school convinced them to apply for the Class of 2006. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
It is the third time in four years the University has established a new standard for undergraduate applications while exceeding the 20,000 mark in the process.
Those numbers alone would be heartening, Mahoney says, but other trends in BC's undergraduate applications surge are continuing. The mean SAT score of students accepted to BC rose from 1345 last year to 1362, which Mahoney terms "a dramatic increase in the quality of students applying."
BC also is drawing a more diverse pool of prospective freshmen, Mahoney adds. This year saw a 15 percent increase in the numbers of AHANA applicants for a total of about 5,500, a new record.
The influx of applications from high school students in states such as Florida (20 percent more than in 2002), Texas (17 percent), California (16 percent) and Illinois (15 percent), meanwhile, demonstrated BCÕs solid national reputation, Mahoney said.
Among the University's undergraduate schools and programs, the Connell School of Nursing, as in 2002, recorded the most significant rise in applicants: 52 percent, to go with the 42 percent increase of last year. University administrators say the CSON figures partly reflect a revival of interest nationally in nursing as a career choice.
"Only five years ago, we were receiving around 16,000 applications for the incoming freshman class," said Mahoney. "To have made this kind of progress in that stretch of time is remarkable, especially when you consider the recent concerns among many Americans about the economy and security.
"It may be that, as families have become more careful about the choices they make, they seek the best value possible — and that includes college. So when they see Boston College, they are confident that their children will receive an all-around high-quality education."
But what is it, exactly, that has propelled BC into the so-called "hot school" status? Administrators and current freshmen — who last year at this time were winding up their own college search process — say there are some obvious and quantitative answers, starting with BC's proximity to Boston.
"I'd grown up on the west coast, and as much as I like it I knew I didn't want to spend my entire life there," said Portland, Ore., native Claire Brown '06. "When we went on vacation in Boston a few years back, I just fell in love with the city. Knowing BC was only a short train ride away from it made a big impression." Prospective college students, naturally, have volumes of guides, magazines and other materials that report on and compare colleges' strengths and weaknesses. For some applicants, BC's consistently favorable rankings in publications such as US News or Kaplan/Newsweek apparently made a strong case.
"You just had this sense that BC was 'an up-and-coming' kind of place," said Michael Dixon '06, a Presidential Scholar from the Detroit area.
"I knew about BC's academic standards, and that it was just a great school," said Malik Lewis '06, of Burlington, NC. "That's why it was on my list." Since college selection is also often a matter of heart as well as head, students say the welcoming atmosphere of the BC campus during their visits helped in no small way to influence their decision to apply.
"I liked the community and the people in it," said Dixon, who spent five days at BC last February. "I enjoyed the activities, like going to the hockey game at Conte Forum, but I got a lot out of the informal conversations I had. When I was in high school, I had a range of interests, like athletics and the school newspaper, and I could see there were a lot of other students here like me."
Lewis, who visited as part of the Admission Office's "Discovery Weekend" for prospective AHANA applicants, agrees that while reading and hearing about BC from many sources certainly aided his choice, the intangibles also played a part. "As I looked around," he said, "I could just see myself on this campus."
Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay said Undergraduate Admission and Student Services staff "will be working closely" with applicants and their families during the approach of the May 1 deadline for candidates to accept enrollment. "We can be confident, with history as our guide, that we will enroll a class that once again will raise the bar in qualities and diversity to add to our already vibrant student body," said Lay.
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