Feb. 22, 2000

Columbia Receives Record-Setting Number Of Applications; Selectivity Expected To Increase

By A. Dunlap-Smith

This year Columbia again received a record number of applications to Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, almost doubling the number of undergraduate applications received just eight years ago.

The new record for applications to the undergraduate schools now stands near the 16,000 mark.

For the class of 2004, the College received 13,400 applications, a 2.7 percent increase over last year's record, and the Engineering School received 2,429, a 5.2 percent increase, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid reported. These figures include applications for early decision.

This increase pushes the application growth rate at both Columbia College and the Engineering School to 97 percent since 1993.

The School of General Studies reports a 16.5 percent increase in applications compared with the number received in spring 1999, which was also a record-setting year with a 23 percent jump over of the year before. And Barnard expects another record-setting year for applications although figures are not yet final.

Next fall's first-year class will be both the most selective and the largest in the history of Columbia College. The class of 2004 will number 1,007--about 50 more students than in last year's incoming class.

Despite this increase, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Eric Furda expects the selectivity rate this year will break the record of 13.6 percent set last year, which was the third most selective rate among Ivy League schools. This year's selectivity rate will be announced in the spring when admissions decisions are final.

Selectivity at the Engineering School, which was 28.8 percent for the class of '03, is expected to improve also, Furda said.

This year's rise in the number of Engineering applications was steeper than last year's 4.5 percent, but at the College it was gentler than the 6.2 percent registered in 1999.

Among the reasons for the flatter rate of growth in applications to the College is the nationwide burgeoning popularity of the early decision option among applicants, Furda explained. The popular but often binding option means students apply to fewer top-tier schools overall.

The College received 1,309 applications for early decision this fall, 11 percent more than the year before. Early admittances make up 47 percent of the Columbia College class of '04. Engineering admitted 39 percent of its '04 class early.