Kelly Walter and her BU Admissions crew have logged a lot of frequent flyer miles of late, visiting 2,000-plus high schools around the globe in search of prospective Terriers. Their exertions paid off: the University has broken the 60,000 mark for freshman applicants for the first time, with students of color driving the surge.
Walter, associate vice president for enrollment and executive director of admissions, says BU has received 60,701 applications, to be precise, for the Class of 2021, which aims to enroll 3,400 freshmen. The number of applications is 6 percent greater than last year’s applicant pool.
“BU is the first institution in New England to exceed 60,000 fall freshman applications,” says Walter, adding that she knows of only one private school, New York University, with a larger applicant pool. (Some mega-sized public universities receive applications in the six digits.) Data for applicant numbers are shared among universities and are available from other sources, such as the federal government.
Burgeoning applicant numbers are “a testimony to the growing reputation of Boston University as a major research university,” says President Robert A. Brown. Other factors, he says, are continuing refinement of the University’s academic programs and “the interest of today’s undergraduate student in the very urban and global experience that is our hallmark.”
Walter says no single BU school or college is driving the application surge.
The bigger pool mainly comes from US applicants, “and in particular underrepresented minority students,” she says. Roughly 4,300 African Americans applied, representing 7 percent of the applicant pool and a 15 percent jump over last year’s percentage of black applicants.
Hispanic and Latino applicants, at 6,150, exceed 10 percent of the applicant pool, and mark a 9 percent increase over last year.
Walter believes that new recruitment efforts played a key role in this year’s record pool. “We expanded our multicultural student outreach and access initiatives,” she says, with BU representatives visiting 105 community-based organizations. The University added a second contingent of students from California’s Bay Area to its Posse Foundation scholars, awarding scholarships to high-achieving urban high schoolers.
International applications rose just 3 percent, although at more than 13,000, they represent more than one-fifth of the applicant pool, according to Walter. Those would-be students come from 162 countries.
“There is a significant increase in students applying to BU under our binding Early Decision program,” she says, with the two rounds under the program drawing more than 4,100—up 22 percent over the previous year. Admissions among those early-bird applicants will make up more than a third of the Class of 2021, she forecasts.
Walter says her office also attempted to bring more applicants to campus, because campus visits boost the likelihood of applying and enrolling. Almost 78,000 prospective students visited campus, a 14 percent increase. The Admissions office also upped its recruiting on social media.
“Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, social media is a primary means of engagement,” she says.
The average GPA of the applicant pool is 3.7. The average SAT score is 1357 (out of a possible 1600); the average ACT score is 30 (of a possible 36).