Adam Giffi, Senior Staff Writer

Students at Miami University often say they knew they wanted to attend school here from the moment they set foot on campus.

The university has capitalized on this sentiment, according to Michael Kabbaz, associate vice president for enrollment management, with a dramatic 96 percent increase in early decision applicants.

“No other institution saw the increase that we saw,” Kabbaz said. “We had 466 applications in 2010 and in 2011, we ended up with 913 of these applications. That outpaces any institution in the country.”

Jennifer Herman, senior associate director in the Office of Admissions, said early decision is a binding agreement where prospective students apply to a university and receive notice of their acceptance or deferral promptly and in exchange are therefore required to attend the university if they are accepted. The deadline is Nov. 1 for these applications and students are notified on Dec. 15.

Of the 913, Herman said 684 have been admitted.

While the agreement is obligatory, Herman said there are occasionally a few students that do not ultimately attend because they simply break the agreement and back out or for reasons such as a family crisis.

Herman said there is a slightly higher acceptance rate for early decision students.

“Early decision applicants typically show great personal and academic promise and they send a strong message to us by indicating we are their first choice,” Herman said.

However, Kabbaz said the true advantage to applying for early decision for those that know they want to attend Miami is simple.

“You get the stress of the process over,” Kabbaz said. “If Miami is your first choice, this is the perfect avenue. A very anxiety-ridden process can be over for a student before the holidays.”

Students who are denied can apply again for regular admission and receive their final decision in March along with regular decision applicants.

Along with focusing on the special feeling of being at Miami, Kabbaz said a huge effort was made to promote the outcome of attending school here: where students are getting jobs upon graduation, what graduate schools they go on to attend, graduation rates and more.

“Miami’s outcomes rival that of the top public institutions and frankly some of the most highly selective institutions in the country,” Kabbaz said. “So really what we did this year is just make a strong concerted effort on the admission part to really start promoting the outcomes.”

Kabbaz said any materials disseminated to prospective students from the admissions office in 2011 were focused on these outcomes, an effort he said has clearly proved effective.

First-year Maggie Ledbetter did not apply for early decision when she was looking at Miami, however, she sees the increased rate of those that do as a huge positive for the university.

“I had friends that applied this way because they have wanted to come here for years,” Ledbetter said. “More students like this are great because they are really passionate about Miami.”

Kabbaz could not agree more and feels these students add value for everyone on campus.

“The best part about early decision students is that they are coming to Miami as their first choice,” Kabbaz said. “This means that they couldn’t be more excited to be here and by having students with this level of enthusiasm on campus, it adds to the excitement and experience for all students.”