Oxy Applications Defy National Trends
Despite fears that the recession could have a significant impact on this year's admission results, Occidental College not only received a record number of applications for the Class of 2013 but saw a 2 percent increase in its yield of admitted students.
These results stand in contrast to many other top-ranked liberal arts colleges, where applications leveled off or declined, and yield rates showed little change from last year. In a March survey by Princeton Review, two-thirds of high school students polled said the recession had influenced their college decisions this year.
"We're often asked if we have experienced an 'Obama bump,' since the fact that President Obama spent his first two years of college at Occidental has been widely publicized," said Dean of Admission Vince Cuseo. "While it's difficult to establish any cause-and-effect relationship, it's clear it has made more people aware of the superb education students receive at arguably the nation's most diverse liberal arts college, and one of the few located in a big city."
Applications to Occidental broke the 6,000 mark for the first time ever this year, an increase of 4 percent over last year. Applications have more than doubled over the past decade. Occidental repeatedly has been named a "Best Value" school by U.S. News & World Report and Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and was ranked No. 7 among liberal arts colleges in Smart Money's "payback" rankings, which focuses on the relationship between tuition costs and graduates' earning power.
Of those students offered admission this year, 59 percent of those reporting school rank were in the top 10 percent of their high school class. The median SAT score was 1960, up from 1930 last year. The median composite ACT score was 29, up from 28 last year.
More than half (56 percent) of admitted students are from outside California, living in 39 states and Washington, D.C. Seven percent of admitted students are foreign or dual citizens, representing 24 countries. Men make up 42 percent of the total group.
Students of color from the United States make up 36 percent of admitted students, while underrepresented students -- African-Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans/Native Hawaiians -- make up 20 percent of the group. More than half (53 percent) come from public schools.
Test scores and 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, out-of-class contributions and extracurricular involvement, personal character, letters of recommendation, and the personal essay.