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Northwestern University’s early decision applications for undergraduate admission have reached an all-time high – and are now more than double than those received just five years ago.

Early decision applications at Northwestern are up for the eighth consecutive year, with the number for the Class of 2017 so far totaling 2,625 and representing a 7 percent increase from last year.

The rising number of students committing early to Northwestern — and to Northwestern only, if admitted — follows the record number of applications received overall for last year’s class. Applications topped 32,000 for the Class of 2016, the most academically gifted in the school’s 161-year history.

Admissions officials say NU increasingly is being recognized nationally and internationally for the excellence of its students and its highly diverse education offered inside and outside the classroom.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro writing in the alumni magazine, said the school “is likely one of very few institutions that can claim to have had its students, faculty or alumni win all of the following: Nobel Prizes, Academy Awards, Tony Awards, Rhodes Scholarships, MacArthur ‘genius grants,’ Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards and World Series and Super Bowl rings.”

Winning big scholarship competitions is widely used as measures of the quality of undergraduate teaching, and Northwestern students increasingly have been winning Rhodes, Marshall, Churchill and Fulbright scholarships.

Last year Sarah Smierciak, who graduated in 2011 from Northwestern summa cum laude, won a Rhodes Scholarship, widely considered the world’s most prestigious international scholarship. A triathlete, Smierciak came to Northwestern knowing little about the Middle East and ended up speaking fluent Arabic, living in Cairo and traveling one and a half hours daily to a makeshift school, where she taught street children and helped develop the curriculum.

For the eighth year in a row, Northwestern is among the top 10 producers of U.S. Fulbright grant recipients at the nation’s research institutions, according to a ranking published in the Oct. 24 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Northwestern Fulbright winners currently teach, conduct research or study in countries around the world, representing every Northwestern undergraduate school as well as the law and medical schools.

“The breadth of opportunities made available by Northwestern’s six strong undergraduate schools with the cross-school collaboration between faculty and students truly sets Northwestern’s culture apart,” said Michael Mills, associate provost for University enrollment.

“Sixty-five percent of Northwestern students graduate with more than one major — with a double major or a major, minor and a certificate or various other combinations of studies — sometimes in completely different fields,” added Christopher Watson, dean of admissions at Northwestern.

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