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You Got a 31 On the ACT? Weak.

By Matt Wood in News on Mar 24, 2006 4:20PM

chicagoist_2006_03_illini.gifThe days of keeping that big state university as a "safety school" while holding out for the Ivy League or that pretty campus on the beach (oooh, Pepperdine) may be over for Illinois students, at least in the short-term.

Admission to the University of Illinois was harder than ever this year, as the school received a record number of applications for its colleges. U of I received 22,300 total applications this year, a 12 percent increase over last year, and its business school saw a 22 percent increase in applicants. School officials credit increased recruiting efforts around the state in places like Peoria, East St. Louis, and Rockford. Such successful recruiting efforts resulted in having to put 1,100 applicants on a waiting list contingent on other applicants who decline their admission.

Getting into U of I is more complicated because students apply directly to one of its colleges, instead of the university at-large and declaring a major later. This means that a well-qualified applicant to the highly-competitive business school might get squeezed out, whereas they would have had no problem getting into another college. We've even heard that a lot of kids apply to U of I's College of Agriculture with no intention of studying Agribusiness or Crop Science, hoping instead to transfer to another college later. This never made much sense to Chicagoist, because at our neighboring big state alma mater where freshmen are admitted at-large, few students stuck with their original declared major anyway. Why make a 17-year old kid decide what he or she wants to do the rest of their life? We actually did stick with our initial choice through graduation and have spent the last seven years trying to undo it.