Applications for the Boston College Class of 2022 totaled 31,098, representing a nine percent increase over the those for the previous freshman class, and the highest figure since the 34,061 received for the Class of 2016.
In addition, the number of early action applications rose by 15 percent, to 10,350, compared to the Class of 2021. From that pool, the University admitted 3,170 students, a two percent decrease from last year’s 33 percent acceptance rate.
Putting these statistics in context, Director of Undergraduate Admission John L. Mahoney cited several trends and developments – some national, others specific to BC – that are likely to have short-term or longer-lasting impact on the University’s recruitment and admission goals.
One notable trend, he said, is that freshmen applications have rebounded after a two-year period that saw them dip significantly – to 24,538 in 2013 and 23,223 in 2014 – after BC added a supplementary essay to its application in 2012.
“The best way to explain this is what might be called ‘market acclimation,’” said Mahoney. “At first, students who considered applying to BC didn’t expect an essay, so they steered away. But now, after a few years, people know the essay is there and so they take that into account when they look at BC as a potential destination.
“This points to BC’s continued strength among college-age students. If they decide to do the essay, it suggests a level of seriousness about wanting to go here.”
The numbers for early action applicants – who submit applications by Nov. 1 and are notified of the University’s decision by Christmas – also are a cause for optimism, said Mahoney, who explained the benefit of early action from the Office of Admission’s standpoint: “You get some wonderful students, and have a longer period of time in which to interact with them before they must decide [by May 1] to submit their enrollment confirmation fee.”
The admitted early action students demonstrated academic proficiency on entrance exams, Mahoney said, averaging 33 on the ACT and 1453 on the SAT. He noted that since the College Board implemented a new SAT last year, with a 1,600-point scale and a revised writing and reading section, more students are scoring at higher levels – the average SAT score for last year’s early action admitted students was 1425 – but this does not devalue their high academic quality.
“Overall, this is still about the top five percent of national test-takers,” said Mahoney. “There is a theory that the higher SAT scores embolden students to think of applying to highly selective schools like BC. When they see their test scores are up around the 1450s, they think, ‘OK, I’m going to up the ante.’”
Demographics and geography are a continuing challenge for colleges’ recruiting efforts, as the college-age population in New England and the Midwest is “in a flat period” compared to other parts of the country, said Mahoney. However, BC continues to remain strong in primary markets like Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, while building on progress in key states such as California (up 9.71 percent from last year), Florida (8.46 percent) and Texas (8.35 percent).
BC also saw a 12.4 percent increase in applications from international students.
AHANA students made up 33 percent of BC’s Class of 2022 applicant pool, he said, due to a 16 percent increase in applications over last year; the current freshman class is the most diverse in University history, with 31 percent AHANA students.
Proximity to Boston and Jesuit, Catholic identity have long been major factors in BC’s favor, said Mahoney, but current and future University-wide academic initiatives are also now making an impression on potential applicants.
“We’re seeing great interest in the core curriculum renewal program of the past few years. Even just hearing the names of some of the new pilot courses really gets students’ attention. They’re very impressed and intrigued with the way BC is revitalizing the study of liberal arts.”
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society – construction of which begins next spring – also is capturing imaginations, Mahoney said.
“Even though it’s still a few years away, the Schiller Institute is a great manifestation of Jesuit education in the 21st century: using strengths in the sciences and humanities to address world problems. It looks and sounds very cutting-edge to this generation of college students.”
As always, Mahoney commends the hard work among his Admission colleagues for BC’s recruitment: “It’s truly a team effort.”
An increasingly important part of that team, he added, is the role of some 700 undergraduates who volunteer for the Student Admission Program.
“One evening as I was heading out, I saw lights on in the Admission Office waiting room, and when I looked in I saw a bunch of SAP volunteers. They were e-mailing all the students from the Midwest who had applied, thanking them for their interest in BC; then there would be another group of volunteers who would e-mail students from other parts of the country.
“It’s things like that which can mean a lot when you’re trying to figure out what college is best for you.”
—Sean Smith | University Communications