Class of 2015 Applicants Set Record
Number of hopefuls jumps by 9 percent
Navigate through the graphic above to see how the demographics have grown and changed. Each figure represents 200 applications. Graphic by Joseph Chan
Prospective students vying for one of 4,000 slots in next year’s freshman class face the toughest competition in memory: a record 41,734 applications—up 9 percent from last year—have been submitted to Boston University’s undergraduate programs. The extraordinarily large pool of applicants is extremely well prepared and more diverse than last year’s. As a group, the applicants have a higher grade point average and SAT score averages (1,896) that are 22 points higher than last year’s. Of those hoping for admission to the class of 2015, 48 percent are in the top 10 percent of their high school class. The pool shows a 19 percent increase in applications from international students, mainly from China, Korea, and Taiwan, an 8 percent increase in the number of African American students, and a 22 percent increase in Hispanic/Latino students.
Laurie Pohl, vice president of enrollment and student affairs, says she believes that high school seniors are responding to real changes at BU. “They like BU more now because there is more to like,” says Pohl. “Over the past five years, the University has put more money into growing the faculty and increasing financial aid. It’s also made significant investments in programs to support student life and student services, dormitories, concerts, and clubs.”
Pohl believes students interested in BU are also responding to efforts to “take a more student-centric approach to admissions and to the conversation we have with prospective students.”
“We’ve made a conscious effort to stop talking about the University as a place,” she says. “We spend more time helping prospective students understand why this university is a good fit for them, and how they will be better prepared after four years to compete in whatever venue or venture they choose. If you add up all the things we’ve done over the past five years, the end result is more prospective students hearing better things about BU. The changes give students a clearer sense of what’s in it for them.”
Admissions ambassador coordinator Chelsea Carter (CAS’11), who has led more than 100 tours for prospective students, says high school students who visit the campus respond visibly to the energy they see in places like the George Sherman Union. “Especially if it’s one of those days when it’s really hopping,” she says. “They really like going into places like the union, seeing the energy.”
Carter says students taking the tours listen closely to the personal stories of tour guides, and ask about life in the dorms. “They want to know what it is we like about BU, even if it’s just something like Starbucks at the GSU,” she says. “They also like to hear that it’s OK for them to be undecided about what they want to major in, and that BU is the kind of place where you don’t have to have all of your life goals planned at the age of 18.”
Quincy Wright (COM’12), who has been leading tours for two years, thinks much of BU’s appeal is its urban setting. Prospective students “are sometimes surprised when they see you get the benefit of a city-like atmosphere,” he says, “but you have a cohesion of campus that many urban schools don’t.”
The students who take the Ultimate Terrier Tour, which includes West Campus, are most likely to be impressed, he says. “When I bring kids into FitRec, their eyes widen. They see the rock-climbing wall and the pool; then you take them to see Agganis. They are really blown away when you cap it off with StuVi 2.”
Wright says most students visiting in the past year talk about BU as their first, or perhaps second, choice rather than number four, five, or six, as might have once been the case.
“The kids I see arrive with a lot of knowledge about BU,” he says. “They know a lot about our programs before they get here. They’re not coming here just because their moms thought BU would be a cool place to go to school.”
Kelly Walter, assistant vice president and executive director of admissions, says this year’s applicants show increasing interest in BU’s professional schools, a trend that may also reflect concern about the economy. “People want to make sure that when they graduate, they have the best possible skill sets,” she says. Walter sees more interest in the College of Engineering, the College of Communication, and Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “Sargent is particularly hot right now,” she says. “There is a lot of emphasis on health issues.”