By Mark Sullivan
Continuing to widen its appeal to top students across the country, Boston College has recorded its highest-ever number of freshman applications, having received more than 20,500 for some 2,100 places in the Class of 2004.
In breaking the 20,000 plateau, Boston College has seen annual applications jump by 4,000 in just two years, and administrators said the Universityís reputation has continued its ascent.
"With its Boston location, its strength as a Jesuit, Catholic university, and its listing by US News & World Report among the top 40 best universities and 50 best values in American higher education," Dean of Enrollment Management Robert Lay said, "Boston College has become a legitimate choice for that really bright kid in Minnesota."
A prominent factor in the increase has been the rising number of prospective students using the Web as an information resource, and BCís adopting a common application form endorsed by a number of leading national universities.
"The Internet has changed the way students think about applying," said Lay. "It has expanded their horizons. Many surf the ëNet and check out a widely expanded range of choices.
Another significant phenomenon has been the marked rise in early-action applications, Lay said. Boston College saw the number of such applications rise by 26 percent to more than 4,000 this past fall. Lay said the statistic is noteworthy in that it measures the extent to which "high-ability students are looking at Boston College as a first destination and are really interested in applying."
Surveys of college applications indicate prospective students have come to view BC as among a select group of American colleges and universities. Other schools to which members of the current freshman class applied included Georgetown, Harvard, Brown, Duke and Tufts universities, Dartmouth College and the College of the Holy Cross.
"The application increase is happening at the upper end of the pool, not the lower end," said Undergraduate Admission Director John Mahoney. "This means top students are recognizing Boston Collegeís commitment to undergraduate education, the quality of facilities and technology, and the liveliness of the learning environment."
Mahoney noted the 20,000 plateau in applications was broken at the same time Boston College topped $1 billion in endowment.
"I think the endowment does affect our applicant pool," he said. "We are dealing today with sophisticated families who are seeking the best value for their investment. Having an endowment that exceeds $1 billion sends a message that BC is strong financially and well positioned to respond to the changing world of higher education."
Boston College now finds itself among the top six private universities in America in volume of applications, according to Lay, after New York University, Boston University, the University of Southern California, Cornell and Stanford universities.
"The fact that weíve jumped from 16,000 to more than 20,000 in a two-year period shows weíre capturing the attention of a national audience," said Lay.
But Lay added, "We donít want
more applications just to say we have more applications," said Lay. "Our
plan to increase access is meant to increase talent and diversity in our
pool and enrich the freshman class."
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