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Shriya Manian for Spectator

Admissions officers mailed Early Decision letters from College Walk Thursday. Jessica Marinaccio, dean of undergraduate admissions, is in Columbia blue.

The number of Early Decision applications received by Columbia dropped 5.68 percent this year, a decrease that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions said was impacted by changes in the early application policies of "peer institutions." This year, Harvard University and Princeton University restored their early admission programs, which allow prospective students to apply early to only one college. "The decrease in applications was influenced by decisions made by our peers, Harvard and Princeton," Jessica Marinaccio, director of undergraduate admissions for Columbia College and SEAS, said. "But I'd say it was only slightly affected, and not a very large influence." Both universities' programs fall under the category of "early action," which is non-binding. Early action was previously eliminated at both schools in September 2006, a decision that benefited financially-disadvantaged applicants who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to consider the financial aid offers of other universities. At the time of publication, Columbia's admissions office declined to provide information about the number of students accepted or deferred. This year Columbia received 3,088 ED applications, a decrease from last year's 3,229 applications, of which a record low of 19.6 percent were accepted. Despite the decrease in applicants, a statement from the admissions office said that the ED pool "increased in terms of academic quality indicators" and that the percentage of the class filled through ED—around 40 percent—remained consistent. "CU is becoming more and more selective and that's wonderful news, but the hardest part is saying no to students," Marinaccio said. "We don't revel in saying no to so many." Barnard College received 561 applications, a 2 percent increase from the previous year's 550 applications. Harvard and Princeton received 4,245 applications and 3,547 applications, respectively. Admissions officers and employees of the University's financial aid department mailed Early Decision acceptance letters to students of the Class of 2016 in a ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Assembled on College Walk before a red Toyota Sienna holding ten USPS boxes of admissions envelopes, the enthusiastic group of about 30 cheered and sang "Roar Lion Roar," Columbia's fight song. "We spend so much on this process and to come to together and have this ceremonial gesture is incredibly exciting," Marinaccio said. "The great thing about Early Decision is that when we admit a student we know that they're coming here. Tonight at 5 p.m. they'll find out they're admitted to their first-choice university. That anticipation is very exciting." Josh Cohen, of Atlanta, found out Thursday that he would be a member of Columbia Engineering's Class of 2016. "I still don't know that it has quite sunk in yet," he said. "I was so nervous, and I was all shaken right up to the notification. I kind of had to sit down for a bit." Ivan Romero, CC '16, said that he would remember yesterday as a defining moment in his life. "It was just kind of like my four years summed up into five seconds of my heart beating faster than it has ever," he said.

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