Northwestern Reports Surge in Black Applicants

In recent years Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has been a laggard in black enrollments. In the current academic year Northwestern ranks 26th in percentage of black enrollments among the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities. The number of black freshmen in the current year is down 17 percent from a year ago.

But the future looks brighter. Michael Mills, associate provost for university enrollments at Northwestern, reports that the number of black applicants is up 22 percent compared to last year. When all the dust settles, it might be the largest black applicant pool in the university’s history.

After last year’s disappointing results, Northwestern waived the application fee for any student in the predominantly black Chicago public school system. Current black students at Northwestern were used to attract other black students to campus. The black students wrote letters and e-mail messages to prospective black students, went back to their own high schools to recruit other students, participated in phone-a-thons, and hosted black students who visited campus.

Mills cautions that a large applicant pool does not insure a major increase in black students this fall. A major effort must be made to convince black students who are accepted to the university to enroll. Last year, less than one quarter of all accepted black students decided to enroll.