In fall 1993, the Gonzaga Admissions Office saw hundreds of paper applications get sent in. Transcripts, letters of recommendation and test scores piled up in bins for the office to sort through.

As time progressed, the admissions process became easier. Applications were submitted through the GU website, which led to more students being able to apply. In 1998, the GU admissions office decided to begin a new application process that involved early action, following a trend at the time.

The early action process has recently been removed for the 2020 high school class who are currently applying to GU. All applications are now due Dec. 1.

“I decided to apply early admission because I was extremely stressed about the college admissions process,” sophomore Maureen Parks said in an email. “I wanted to know whether I had good options as soon as possible so I could know whether I needed to explore other options.”

Parks believes that early action was an opportunity that helped her secure her spot at GU.

She also noted that applying for early action lessened her stress, because if she wasn’t admitted, she knew she had another chance during regular admission time.

The removal of early action wasn’t something that was an overnight decision. A lot of statistics about enrollment and the change of climate when it comes to applying to college were taken into account when the Office of Admissions decided to do away with early action. 

In 1998, there were 1,841 first-year applicants, 340 of whom were early action. At the

time, 288 of those students were admitted and 149 enrolled, which means the yield was 52%.

This trend has changed in recent years. In 2018, there were over 8,000 first-year applicants, and 5,575 were early action. There were 3,836 admitted and 821 enrolled at GU — leaving a yield of 22%.

“Early action was originally intended as a program for the most interested students in a given school,” said Julie McCulloh, the associate provost of student enrollment in an email. “Culturally, that has changed, and it simply became about applying in the fall of senior year. That made the predictability of whether a student would enroll at Gonzaga or not less certain.”

This also makes it easier for the Office of Admissions to get through all the applications.

“Generally, this work was done in about a six-week window, since the deadline was November 15 and decisions communicated by December 20,” McCulloh said. “The amount of overtime worked, and stress placed on the Admission team was too great to continue in the same manner.”

The Office of Admissions spoke with the admissions office at the University of San Diego in January, who had forgone the early action process a couple of years prior. USD told the office to prepare for a drop in the number of applications received for the class of 2020. It also noted the possibility for a more diverse class, both economically and in applicants’ backgrounds.

“The Admission team expects to see greater diversity in the application pool across socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic background,” McCulloh said. “Our research indicates that the composition of early action pools have more students from middle-to-high income homes, and tend to be represented by more Caucasian students.”

The removal of early action makes the process a little more fair for certain majors as well.

“In the past, about 95% of nursing spaces went to early action applicants,” McCulloh said. “Now, all nursing applicants have an equal chance at admission.”

Lindey Wilson is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @lindseyrwilson1.

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