This year, Boston College received approximately 23,200 applications from prospective undergraduates, 7,800 of whom were offered admission. Of the total number of applications received, approximately 16,000 were allotted for the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S); 5,900 for the Carroll School of Management (CSOM); 700 for the Lynch School of Education (LSOE); and 800 for the Connell School of Nursing (CSON).
In 2012, BC received 34,051 undergraduate applications, of which more than 9,200 (or 28 percent) were offered admission. Prior to 2013, applications for admission to BC were based solely on criteria requested by the Common Application. Last year, however, the Office of Undergraduate Admission added a 400-word supplemental essay-the first instance of an additional essay since the University joined the Common Application in 1998.
Of the approximately 9,300 admitted students in 2012, 2,300 enrolled-generating a yield of 24.8 percent and an overall acceptance rate of about 28 percent.
Predominantly the result of the supplemental essay, the total number of applications for 2013 dropped to approximately 24,538-a decrease of about 28 percent (or 10,000) of applications. Of the 24,538 accepted, about 7,850 were offered admission, and 2,250 of admitted students enrolled-producing a yield of 28 percent.
Despite the number of applications decreasing by nearly 10,000 between 2012-13, and about another 1,300 between 2013-14, John L. Mahoney, director of the Office of Undergraduate Admission, noted that comparable universities are still receiving fewer applications than BC, but are also maintaining a focus on a high yield.
“Two of our chief competitors are Georgetown and Notre Dame-Georgetown has 19,000 applications this year, and Notre Dame has 17,000 applications this year,” Mahoney said.
This year, the University is targeting a class size of about 2,280, or an increased yield of 30 percent-a figure that, according to Mahoney, is a more accurate reflection of engaging admitted students than the acceptance rate.
“In the college admission world, there are a lot of people who just say ‘more is better,’ and there are lots of schools out there that are driving up applicant pools with all kinds of tactics to improve their position with U.S. News and World Report,” he said. “I’m passionate about Boston College, and I’m very competitive, so I’m hoping that we’re going to reach 30 percent this year on the yield.”
The breakdown of the target class size budgets roughly 1,600 students enrolling in A&S; 500 to CSOM; about 120 to LSOE; and 90 to CSON.
“I think what BC did last year was to right-size its applicant pool in the context of our position in the selective college hierarchy,” Mahoney said. “Yield is the most important thing. You want yield to be strong-you want the right students to be applying.
“Last year’s yield went up almost four percentage points,” he said. “So, the yield went up and the quality of the enrolling class went up.”
This year, 5,558 students applied Early Action (EA), and 2,200 (or 40 percent) were offered admission. The remaining 5,600 available acceptances were admitted during the regular decision period. According to Mahoney, the University anticipates that CSOM-given its selectivity and recent No. 4 ranking in Bloomberg Businessweek-will be the most competitive of the four undergraduate schools for enrollment.
Although the Office of Undergraduate Admission doesn’t release finalized specific figures on the number of denied or waitlisted students until the beginning of the 2014 academic year, Mahoney noted that the majority of students not admitted at this time have been turned down outright.
“Waitlist offers are extended in the hopes that there will be an active waiting list on May 1 of about 1,000 students,” he said.
With 2,280 set as the final target for the number of enrolled students, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will then use the wait list to account for yield fluctuation.
“If we land short of our enrollment, [the Office of Undergraduate Admission] will go to the waiting list … If we’re a bit over, we’ll still go to the waiting list, because of those students who commit to us by May 1, some will be admitted from other waiting lists, so there will be some attrition after May 1 … Typically about 5 percent of students who enroll by May 1 will decide to go elsewhere after May 1,” Mahoney said.
The University also employs a nonbinding EA application, which allows students who apply EA to do so at other institutions. Mahoney noted that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions anticipates roughly 700-750 admitted EA students will enroll at BC, and maintains a goal of the overall incoming class to consist of no more than approximately 30 percent EA students-the remaining enrollees are admitted during the Regular Decision period.
For this year’s 2200 accepted EA students, the average SAT score is 2,125 out of a possible 2400, and the average ACT was a 32 out of a possible 36. For the overall admitted class of 7,800 students, the average SAT score is a 2100 and the average ACT is 31.
“Applications rose to 34,000 two years ago,” Mahoney said. “The addition of the supplementary essay produced a 28 percent drop in applications last years. To me, the essay was a success. With electronic applications, the Common Application, and many colleges driving up applicant pools by waiving fees, students are applying to too many schools. The essay clearly eliminated applicants who were not serious enough about Boston College to complete a 400-word essay.
“I think those people sort of disappeared from our pool, and we have a smaller, more focused applicant pool, and I think a more serious, more intentional applicant pool,” Mahoney said. “We’re trying to enroll the highest quality student body we can and the most diverse student body, from the standpoint of geography, ethnicity, and we’re trying to attract more international students.”
The recent trend in an increased undergraduate yield has also reflected a growing population of international students at the University. This year marked the sixth consecutive year BC’s international student population has risen. The 1,227 combined undergraduate and graduate international students now comprise 7 percent of the Class of 2017.