Increased Applicants Cause Longer Waitlists


Published: May 5, 2010

The number of applications to Fordham University has consistently increased each fall semester for 19 consecutive years, according to Patricia Peek, associate director of admissions and director of enrollment  at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC). Over 27,000 students applied for the class of 2014, compared to 24,500 just a year before. The University’s Web site states that FCLC received over 5,500 applicants for the class of 2013, of which only 415 were admitted.The New York Times has recently reported that the nation’s top colleges are facing a surge of applications for the coming fall semester.  Waitlists have grown substantially, as economic uncertainty has forced institutions to secure extra students in case those admitted choose not to accept. Universities such as Yale, Dartmouth, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke have all expanded their waitlists, leaving many applicants unsure of their final decisions.

Since 2006, the number of applicants to Fordham has more than doubled. Peek attributed this to several factors, including expanded recruitment efforts to national and international students and the increased popularity of New York as a college town. She also said that Fordham “has made great strides in improving program offerings and campus facilities.”

Fordham, like other top institutions, maintains a waitlist—the result of a large, qualified pool of applicants and limited slots in an incoming class. This year, the number of students who were waitlisted has remained roughly the same as last fall’s. Nevertheless, in recent years, waitlisting has grown as a result of “an increased applicant pool and the uncertainty associated with predicting student decision making,” Peek said.

Waitlisted students, she said, are “solid candidates who… we feel confident can be successful at Fordham.” Peek said they are chosen through “a holistic review of the application, high school transcript, standardized testing, essay, letters of recommendation and extra-curricular activities.”

Brittany Fields, a prospective student, said, “FCLC made me think that I can go with my heart and attend this school as opposed to going to a more renowned institution… Besides, your education, your future, is what you make of it.”

Jordan Carpenter, FCLC ’10, said, “If I were waitlisted, I would have [had] to weigh my options.” “It [would have depended] on what other schools I was accepted to.”

The University does not maintain a fixed number for its waitlist but allows it to vary from year to year. Peek said that during the latest application cycles, that number has hovered around 4,000 students, though only about a quarter of those chosen will decide to remain on the list.

The amount of waitlisted students who are admitted to Fordham also fluctuates. Peek said that “some years there are very few” waitlisted students admitted to Fordham, while “in others [the university] may admit a hundred to… hit [its] enrollment targets.”  She later stated, “If we do go to the waiting list in a given year, all the applicants who expressed interest in remaining on the list are reviewed, and we select the newly admitted students from this group.”

She also added that Fordham’s wait list typically closes in late June, as the University is “committed to giving students a final decision on their applications… so that they can have a sense of closure.”