Record Number of Early Action Applications Reviewed Via New Paperless Admissions Process

By Kris Guay, Communications Manager, Office of Admissions

Students at Orientation 2010Admissions received more than 6400 applications during Early Action. Overall, the Early Action pool saw a significant 12.7% increase over last year (from 5683 to 6404). To put the numbers in perspective, just three years earlier in 2007 only around 3300 students applied during Early Action. About 12,400 students combined between Early and Regular Action applied that year; this year the office is expecting close to 18,000.

A number of factors have contributed to the increase in application numbers. For one, MIT was one of the first universities with staff specifically dedicated to the recruitment of first-generation-to-college students, and the Institute’s participation in the Questbridge program, a non-profit organization that identifies high achieving, underrepresented students, has been a resounding success.

“Applicants really see that MIT has generous financial aid and is highly affordable,” said McGreggor Crowley, Associate Director of Admissions, who oversees the admissions process.

And while the Early Action pool saw a large increase over last year, an even more impressive change has been in the 20.4% increase of applications from underrepresented minority students. The efforts to recruit low-income students complements MIT’s long-time commitment to recruiting and enrolling a diverse class.

“It certainly seems as though we are continuing to benefit from both the energy and effort that have gone into MIT's recruitment program, as well as the strategic focus that has specifically targeted under represented minority prospects,” said David duKor-Jackson, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Minority Recruitment.

Another notable change has been in the proportion of students who apply Early Action relative to those applying Regular Action. Today, almost half of MIT’s domestic applicants chose to apply during Early Action. In the past, this ratio had been closer to 1/3 for Early Action and 2/3 Regular Action.

“We’re seeing such amazing talent applying Early Action to MIT: top-level academics, artists, musicians, and scholar/athletes,” Dr. Crowley said. “I think this has much to do with MIT's appealing non-binding Early Action application process.”

With the increase in early action applicants and MIT’s class size growing, a total of 772 students were admitted during early action.

“We are very excited to be able to admit more students thanks to the increased enrollment this year and the opening of the new Maseeh Hall,” said Stu Schmill, Dean of Admissions.

Construction is now underway on a new dormitory in the building formerly known as W1 and Ashdown House thanks to a gift from Fariborz Maseeh and the Massiah Foundation. It will open in the fall.

Another change for the Admissions office this year was the adoption of a new paperless aadmissions process. Last year, the Student Systems Steering Committee (SSSC) approved plans to create a process that would allow for the conversion of paper application pieces to scanned documents, thereby saving paper, processing time and significant resources. Several admissions staff members worked with Madge Lewis, Ben Cole, Eamon Kearns and Felicia Leung in IS&T to create this system. Thanks to the innovation of Ben Cole, MIT may very well be the only university using the specific eFolder model which allows one click to open the entire application. Others using a similar digital process still have to have to open documents individually.

“We are very proud of the digitalization process that has allowed us to review applications online, in their entirety. That this is a homemade system, custom-tailored to our specific needs, makes it an even more valuable tool. I also like how we don't have to lug around mail crates of folders anymore!” said Crowley.

The entire project ran from mid-April through late September starting with a full needs assessment, then on to create the technical requirements before ending with a couple of deployments. There will be continued enhancements this coming summer.

And it’s not just the reading process that has been helped by the new paperless system. MIT’s Educational Council (EC), our volunteer alumni interviewer network, has benefitted as well.

“For years and years we had a paper packet and the good news is that more and more of our volunteers are using the online system. They are very supportive of our decision to go paperless,” said Kim Hunter, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of the Educational Council.

The Admissions office, rather than the Alumni office, handles the interviewing process. Over 3,000 Educational Counselors (ECs), from the past 50 years come from all over and are representative of every department at MIT. The average EC will interview between six and eight prospective students – some even do as many as 20 – and after the interview itself, it can take up to a couple hours to write the report.

“One of the things that always gets me excited is hearing how much our alums enjoy the interviewing process. I hear over and over again just how amazing our prospective students are,” said Hunter.

Due to the impressive and talented applicant pool, the admissions office is also hard at work with all the various tasks that lead up to the pivotal Campus Preview Weekend (CPW). Over 600 events and activities including student groups, faculty speakers, and open classes await prefrosh and their families during the weekend of April 7-10.

“This year we are really thrilled that CPW is also coinciding with the MIT150 Next Century Convocation,” said Schmill.

In addition to MIT faculty, staff, and students, all CPW attendees, prefrosh and their families are also invited to attend the 150th anniversary of MIT’s charter held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition center.