Sharp Rise in Black Early Applicants to Rice University

Traditionally, black students have been hesitant to take advantage of early admissions programs at the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities. A major reason for this reluctance is the fact that these early admissions programs usually require all accepted applicants to actually enroll. African-American college students typically need financial aid. The requirement that accepted early applicants enroll, therefore, denies African-American students the opportunity to bargain with several competing universities over financial aid awards.

Rice University has what it calls an interim decision application option. Under this program, students apply by December and are informed of the university's decision by early February. The interim admissions application is not binding, which means that students who apply under the program are not required to enroll at Rice if they are accepted.

This year interim decision applications at Rice were up 8 percent from a year ago. But interim decision applications from blacks were up a whopping 38 percent. The admissions office at Rice reports that it conducted an extensive telephone marketing campaign directed at minority students to inform them of the nonbinding interim decision option at Rice.

Blacks made up nearly 6 percent of the interim decision applicants at Rice this year, up from 4.5 percent a year ago. In contrast, only five of the 175 students admitted to Rice this year under its binding early applicant program are African Americans.

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