Music’s apps drop from high last year

Applications to the Yale School of Music dropped this year, following a spike in the number of applicants the previous year that was attributed to the school’s elimination of tuition.

For the 2007-’08 academic year, the music school admitted 114 students from its pool of 1,180 applicants, giving the school a 9.6 percent acceptance rate, Music School Dean of Admissions Daniel Pellegrini said. This rate is slightly above last year’s 8.3 percent, when 125 students were accepted from a much larger pool of 1,496.

The 316-student drop in applications from last year to this year represents 21 percent of last year’s applicant pool. Among this year’s accepted students, there are 47 women, comprising 48 percent of the admitted students, Pellegrini said.

He said the smaller number of applications is an expected correction after an unprecedented spike in applications last year, which followed a $100 million anonymous gift that eliminated tuition at the school.

“Likely influenced by the announcement of the anonymous gift, the numbers for 2006 were dramatically higher than usual, and now for 2007 we have come back down a little but still much higher than we were just a few years ago,” Pellegrini said in an e-mail.

Pellegrini said that between 2002 and 2005, the School saw 600-800 applications each year, well below this year’s 1,180 applicants.

Thomas Duffy, who was acting dean of the school for the 2005-’06 academic year and who directs the Yale University Bands, though he is currently on leave, said that one year’s acceptance rates are usually not indicative of a trend, nor do they have a bearing on a school’s reputation.

“There are so many reasons [a drop in applications] could happen,” Duffy said. “You would probably want to wait a few years and … look at the trend over many years before looking at the school’s reputation.”

University President Richard Levin said professors in the music school are impressed with the quality of the applicants this year.

“I heard firsthand how thrilled the faculty are with the quality — not just the number — of the applications,” Levin said. “The quality of the people in the pool is just spectacular. This is obviously a consequence of the new financial aid policy, which has now drawn a lot of attention to Yale. Now we are getting the applicants that we just weren’t seeing before.”

Pellegrini said acceptance rates for music schools are not usually constant from year to year.

“Music school admission rates differ from year to year and from school to school,” he said in an e-mail. “I believe our rate of admission is competitive with that of other schools, if not on the lower side.”

Pellegrini said that although the School’s applications may be down this year, the free education offered by the School will help uphold its reputation.

“The Yale School of Music has a reputation of being an excellent school,” Pellegrini said. “Now that we offer a full scholarship to every enrolled student, I believe the School has become even more attractive to musicians, resulting in a larger applicant pool and ultimately a stronger incoming class in the fall. The class that arrives in September will be the second to benefit from the free tuition.”

Last year, 119 of 125 admitted students matriculated to the School of Music.

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