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Early Decision Applications Are Up By 14.73 Percent

Commitment to Northwestern as number one choice on rise for ninth straight year

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has received 2,828 Common Applications for the Class of 2018 under its early decision program -- a 14.73 percent increase from last year. The number was 2,465 for the Class of 2017.

For nine consecutive years, early decision applications have increased at Northwestern.

“We’re doing an excellent job of raising our visibility across the nation and the world,” said Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment, “through outreach by staff, student volunteers and faculty, and the president through his international travel.”

The University increasingly is being recognized nationally and internationally for the excellence of its students, the highly diverse education offered inside and outside the classroom, leading faculty research regularly covered in the news and a popular president, Morton Schapiro, who is well known for his expertise in the economics of higher education.

“Northwestern attracts students who are both creative and analytical and provides a left-brain, right-brain type of education that provides plenty of opportunities for them to explore multiple interests,” said Christopher Watson, dean of undergraduate admissions at Northwestern.

The sheer number of classes and the flexibility of the curriculum across Northwestern’s three campuses in Evanston, Chicago and Qatar offer students unparalleled classroom opportunities for defining and developing their ambitions, he said.

The classroom experience, Watson added, is deepened by a variety of experiential learning opportunities that cross disciplines and continents. In recent years, for example, one student has worked with a professor on high-mass star formation and another studied development of a robot; one worked with a jazz musician in Chicago and another in an orchestra in the city; and another traveled to the former Soviet Union to study people who as children spent time in a forced labor camp.

Applied learning is central to Northwestern’s strategic plan and, accordingly, the University is strongly committed to supporting undergraduate research.

Last summer, for example, students who traveled abroad on undergraduate research grants explored industrial development in Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi religious transnationalism in the United Kingdom, water resources in Tanzania and Uganda and an innovative approach that has effectively eliminated bullying in a school in Norway.

“While many of these projects are ways for students to complete their studies, like a senior thesis, we have noticed that students increasingly use them not just to advance their own careers, but also to ‘do good’ in the world,” said Peter Civetta, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.

The numbers of Northwestern undergraduates doing research and creative projects beyond the classroom -- internships, co-ops, research abroad, civic engagement -- continue to grow each year in just about every field of study.

More than 60 percent of Northwestern students graduate with more than one major -- with a double major or a major, minor and a certificate or various other combinations of studies -- sometimes in completely different fields.

Related to the University’s rising visibility and jump in applications, Northwestern students increasingly have been winning elite fellowship competitions, which are widely used to measure the quality of undergraduate teaching and student performance.

For the eighth year in a row, Northwestern is a top 10 producer of U.S. Fulbright grant recipients among the nation’s research institutions, according to a ranking published in the Oct. 28 online edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Twenty-three Northwestern seniors, graduate students and recent alumni have been awarded the prestigious 2013-2014 scholarships from the flagship U.S. government-sponsored program that funds international research exchange.

“With their global and service-oriented emphasis, the Fulbrights reflect what Northwestern is all about,” Mills said.

The breadth of the learning opportunities allows students to explore multiple interests; ask the right questions, often in real-world contexts; and deepen critical thinking skills necessary for success in today’s world.

The University’s highly successful NUvention program, for example, brings together undergraduate and graduate students from Northwestern’s two Chicago-area campuses, involving varying combinations of schools and colleges, to engage in the entrepreneurship process and to learn from industry leaders and others about the process of design and innovation. All students gain knowledge about building a product and a company. In its first four years, the course has spawned a number of promising companies.

“Northwestern students get broad exposure to what is relevant in our global world,” Watson said. “They get an education that prepares them well for a variety of careers.”