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Early signs of the Class of 2005

image: Campus NewsBoom in early-action applications slows, while candidates' qualifications grow stronger.
In January the Office of College Admissions was reporting a 9 percent increase in early applicants this fall with 1,801 applications, up from 1,648 last year and 1,215 in 1998.

"Other schools had smaller increases this year as well," says Michael Behnke, vice president and associate dean for enrollment, noting that "the boom in early programs appears to be settling down."

Chicago admitted 973 early applicants, up from 868 last year. "Word of our greater selectivity continues to spread," says Behnke. "On SATs, we had more growth in the top of the pool and a decline in the bottom." Average SATs for the admitted group increased from 1434 to 1437.

Regional interest from New England jumped by 46 percent, while applications from overseas rose by 23 percent, reflecting Chicago's heightened recruiting efforts abroad, Behnke says. Applications from the Middle States, Southwest, and West were up 15 percent each.

While these numbers reflect trends across the United States, one aspect that remains distinctive about Chicago's annual application cycle is its provocative essay questions. What were this year's applicants mulling over in their essays? A sample question: "At a crucial point in his career, the writer James Baldwin withdrew to a secluded spot in the Swiss Alps. 'There,' he later wrote, 'in that absolutely alabaster landscape, armed with two Bessie Smith records and a typewriter, I began to try to recreate the life that I had first known as a child and from which I had spent so many years in flight.... It was Bessie Smith, through her tone and her cadence, who helped me to dig back to the way I myself must have spoken... and to remember the things I had heard and seen and felt.'

"Inevitably, certain things-recordings, household objects, familiar smells-help us to 'dig our way back' to our past. Write about something that has enabled you to return to a forgotten part of your past."-S.A.S.



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