Boston-Area Colleges Start Sending Admission Letters04:22

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Letters of admission from area colleges are starting to hit mailboxes. Wellesley College's go out Tuesday. Later this week it's Williams and Amherst College and the Ivy Leagues.

Boston College sent its acceptance letters out last Friday the old-fashioned way.

"Paper version, as opposed to the electronic," said John Mahoney, director of undergraduate admissions at BC. "We think it's good for students to hear directly from us, and to be able to see the piece of paper, especially those admitted. We also think that if a student is going to be turned down, sometimes that electronic route can be kind of cold and harsh."

This year, BC turned down the same percentage of applicants it turned down last year.

"We've admitted 34 percent of our applicants this year," Mahoney said.

Boston University sent out its acceptance letters Saturday, and like BC, it offered spots to 34 percent of applicants. That's a smaller percentage than the 37 percent BU accepted last year.

"We had 54,161 applications for admission for an incoming class of 3,700," said Kelly Walter, BU's executive director of admissions.

Last year, BU welcomed 3,800 new students. The university says it's reducing the size of its freshman class over several years.

Applications are up at many universities, including Brandeis, where the number of applicants rose by 6 percent.

"Brandeis is going to admit a lower percentage of our applicants this year, which is a combination of seeing a significant increase in our applicant pool and also continuing to see more students continuing to declare early their intent to enroll at Brandeis," said Andrew Flagel, the senior vice president for students and enrollment there.


Other universities and colleges are also seeing an increase in students who commit early. At Amherst College, some of the students who committed early are low-income students. Overall, applications are up 7 percent this year at Amherst.

"We will be a tad more selective," said Tom Parker, Amherst's dean of admissions. "We accepted slightly fewer people in April, partially because we did so well with QuestBridge in the fall."

QuestBridge is a national program that finds low-income students and persuades them to apply to 35 of the nation's most selective colleges, where many receive full scholarships.

Tufts University is sending out acceptance letters next Monday. It's also expecting to admit a smaller percentage of applicants to its freshman class than it did last year: 17 percent compared to 18.1 percent in 2013.

Boston College saw 5 percent fewer applicants from last year.

Williams College also saw a drop. Dick Nesbitt, Williams' dean of admissions, says he's not sure why applications were down by 8 percent, but one reason might be demographics.

"There aren't as many 18-year-olds in New England states," Nesbitt said.

But Nesbitt says the incoming class will have better academic credentials than last year, including higher SAT scores.

Some universities are receiving more international applications. John Mahoney said they were up by 2 percent at BC.

"We've seen a huge influx of applicants from China," Manhoney said. "The increase there is about 20 percent."

At BU, international applications overall surged by 18 percent this year. But BU is not increasing its ratio of foreign students. They'll continue to make up about 20 percent of the student body.

At MIT, too, the number of international applicants has surged. When it sent out its letters of acceptance on Pi Day, March 14, the university accepted fewer than 3 percent of international applicants. That's even fewer than the record-low overall who received letters of acceptance: just 7.7 percent of students who applied to MIT this year got in.

For most universities, students who have been accepted have until May 1 to send their deposits.

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified Andrew Flagel as Brandeis' dean of admissions; he is a senior vice president for students and enrollment.

This article was originally published on March 25, 2014.

This segment aired on March 25, 2014.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.