Yale’s slight drop in early applications this year deviates from the other Ivies, nearly all of which have seen noticeable increases in their respective numbers of early applicants.
Yale’s applications, which fell three percent from 4,049 applications to 3,926 applications this fall, indicate a stabilization of the early application process, admissions experts said. Princeton University saw the largest application increase of the Ivy schools, receiving 10 percent more applications than the 1,818 received last year. Harvard and Brown universities saw similar increases, with their numbers rising by 7.2 and 8 percent, respectively. Cornell University saw a slight 0.4 percent jump, receiving 2,569 applications.
But Dartmouth College also experienced a decrease in applications after a seven-year high last year. This fall, Dartmouth received 1,171 applications, a 9.1 percent decrease from last year’s 1,278.
Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw told the News Nov. 18 that Yale’s stable numbers indicated that the single-choice early action policy, implemented last year, had helped to calm the “frenzied” application process and “settle the marketplace.”
Joyce Smith, the executive director of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, said she was not surprised by the small decrease in the number of applications Yale received. She said she thought Yale and other Ivies purposely wanted their application numbers to level off or drop in order to “control the application frenzy.”
“I think it’s the way a lot of schools want it,” Smith said. “Their thinking is [single choice early action] forces students to limit how many applications they submit under early plans. Essentially, they’re trying to cut down and limit the number of applications submitted across schools.”
NACAC is an organization of high school counselors and college admissions and financial aid officers.
Compared to the 55 percent increase and the 47 percent decrease Yale and Harvard, respectively, saw last year when both schools switched to the single-choice early action policy, there were no similarly dramatic changes this year.
Under single-choice early action, students may only apply to one school early but are not bound to attend that school if admitted. Before last year, Yale operated under the early decision system, under which students could only apply to one school and were bound to attend if admitted. Harvard used an early action policy under which students could apply early to multiple schools.
Marjorie Jacobs, the director of counseling at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, N.Y., said she did not think Yale’s switch to single-choice early action affected the number of Scarsdale students applying early to Yale. But Jacobs said she thought Yale’s single-choice early action policy was effective.
“I think it’s a better policy, an important policy,” Jacobs said. “It helps all students in the application process to have equal access to their first choice. Single-choice early action is a benefit to students if they’re not totally committed to a school but at the same time they want access to the early application process.”
Sharon Merrow Cuseo, the upper school dean at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood, Calif., said the number of students from Harvard-Westlake applying early to Yale increased, but the number applying early to other Ivy League schools stayed constant. In general, the number of Harvard-Westlake students applying early has increased significantly, from half of all students applying early last year to two-thirds applying early this year, Merrow Cuseo said.
“Last year we had something like 10-15 [early] applicants to Yale, this year something like 15-20,” Merrow Cuseo said. “There have been no increases in the number of students applying early to Ivy League schools. Overall, it looks like they’ve stayed pretty steady because they started off so high.”
Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania have not yet released their early application numbers.