Applications to Occidental Soar 128 % in Five Years
Maintaining its momentum as one of America’s hottest colleges, Occidental received a record-breaking number of applications for a fourth consecutive year, topping 4,000 for the first time in the college’s 115-year history.
Some 4,171 student submitted applications to Occidental this year, up 15 percent over last year’s record total and up a remarkable 128 percent compared to five years ago. Of those who applied for admission, 1,740, or 42 percent, were offered admission, the lowest admit rate at Occidental since the postwar boom year of 1947.
“In my 30-year admission career, I’ve never seen an increase like this – anywhere,” said Bill Tingley, vice president of admission and financial aid, whose resume includes stints at Stanford, Whitman and Pitzer colleges, and UC Santa Cruz.
“Among the 18 liberal arts colleges we use for comparison purposes – a group that includes Pomona, Vassar, Bowdoin, and Oberlin – the largest increase in applications over the same five-year period was about 30 percent, and the average increase less than 10 percent,” Tingley said.
“I’m often asked why we have seen such a dramatic rise in applications,” he continued. “It’s not the result of any major changes at Occidental. Rather, it reflects the growing recognition of Oxy’s long tradition of excellence, its superb faculty, demanding curriculum, diverse and talented students, and its location in one of the world’s great cities.”
Of the 1,740 students offered admission into the Class of 2006, 92 percent ranked in the top quarter of their class, up from 89 percent last year. The median SAT score for admitted students is 1300, up from 1220 five years ago. Half are from California; the rest applied from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and 23 foreign countries.
Students of color and international students make up 40 percent of the class, identical with last year’s total. Underrepresented students – African-Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans – make up 20 percent of admitted students, as compared to 22 percent last year.
Transfer applications at Occidental also have been on the rise, increasing 108 percent over the past five years.
SAT scores and senior class rankings are only two of the factors considered in the holistic process Occidental uses to assess student applicants. Others include the rigor of the student’s academic program, grades in academic solids, trends in academic performance, letters of recommendation, and essays.
Occidental plans to enroll 445 students in its fall 2002 freshman class. Some 47 students have already signed letters of commitment after being accepted through the college’s early decision program. For the third year in a row, every applicant offered early admission accepted, Tingley said.
Based on the buzz among college counselors at high schools across the country, the Wall Street Journal and the Kaplan/Newsweek “How to Get Into College” guide both named Occidental as one of the country’s hottest colleges last fall.