Early admit rates to drop

Yale’s current freshman class is one of the most diverse in the University’s history, but while each student may be unique, about 53 percent share at least one trait in common: They were admitted through Yale’s early action program.

Last year Yale admitted 885 of its 4,888 early applicants, and a higher-than-anticipated 80 percent of early admits chose to matriculate, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel told the News on Monday. While Brenzel released the overall yield for the class of 2012 last spring, the early admissions yield had not previously been disclosed.

While the class of 2012 had an unusually strong early applicant pool, Brenzel said the admissions office will likely not accept as many students early this year from a record pool of between 5,400 and 5,500 early applicants. Brenzel also said he expects fewer students will be deferred during the upcoming college admissions cycle. Half a dozen college guidance counselors interviewed said students would benefit if Yale decreased the number of students admitted through its early program, which they said may advantage some students over others.

“We did take more students last year from a record-shattering early pool, and we somewhat underestimated how many would accept our offer,” Brenzel said in an e-mail. “We were very glad to have these students, but we ended up with somewhat less room in the spring than I would like.”

While Yale saw an average yield rate of about 88 percent for its early admits in the classes of 2007 to 2010, the admissions office anticipated a significant drop in yield last year, the first admissions cycle during which Harvard and Princeton universities did not offer early admission options, Brenzel said.

In the end, there was a drop in yield, but it was relatively minor.

The office cannot predict whether the number of early admits will continue to drop in future early applicant pools, since applicants are considered individually.

“We do not take a student in the early process unless we are sure we would take them in the spring as well,” Brenzel wrote.

Still, the news that Yale might decrease the number of early admits during this admissions cycle drew praise from the half-dozen college counselors interviewed.

A reduction in the number of students admitted early would be a “healthy” change for Yale, said Alice Kleeman, a college advisor at Menlo-Atherton High School, a public school near Palo Alto, Calif.

“The higher percentage of the class that’s admitted early at any high-profile college, the more it contributes to a student’s perception that they should apply early somewhere,” she said.

In order to take advantage of early admissions, many high school students will “put the cart before the horse,” choosing to apply early before they have a sense of what school they would most like to attend, said Jane Horn, director of college counseling at the Kent Denver School in Colorado.

Early admission programs can advantage students with access to strong college counselors since less-prepared students may not be adequately informed about early options, she added.

Early admits constituted 45.3 percent of all admitted students to the class of 2012, compared to 37.1 percent for the class of 2011 and 39 percent for the class of 2010.

Three college counselors expressed surprise that such a high percentage of current Yale freshmen had been admitted early.

Michael Hallman, college counselor at the Meadows School in Las Vegas, said the number seemed “extraordinarily high.”

“When you admit 53 percent of the [matriculating] class through the early action program, that definitely is going to tighten up the competition for regular decision applicants,” he said.

Three college counselors, including Frank Sachs, director of college counseling at the Blake School in Minneapolis, said a shift in the number of deferrals could be a good idea, while the three other counselors interviewed declined to comment on this issue.

“I think deferrals should be for people who really have a chance of getting in,” Sachs said.

Yale will release its decisions to early applicants in less than a month, allowing students to access their decision on the admissions Web site in mid December.


  • anon:

    its time for yale to drop the crutch of early decision and compete on an equal playing field with harvard and princeton. that will get you more "praise" from college counselors considered about the welfare of students.

  • Alum:

    Counting those later admitted from the thousands whose early applications were later deferred, it is likely that more than 2/3 of the Class of 2012 was filled from the smaller, more exclusive early pool. Great for the yield rate, presumably!

  • Recent Alum:

    #1: Yale shouldn't have to help out students who don't see Yale as their first choice. Regardless of one's background, there is absolutely no excuse for not applying early if one really wants to go to Yale.

  • uhhh:

    #3 - Studies have demonstrated (and admissions folk have admitted) that the early applicant pool is less diverse (on all counts). Why? One has to be quite ahead of the game to have all their ducks in a row to be ready to apply by Nov. 1 - in fact, some HSs (especially those with few going to 4 year schools), wont facilitate the mailing of transcripts, recs, etc. until jan 1. Kids applying early have much better odds of getting in - and yale gives them those odds in return for a higher yield, and less loses to harvard, MIT, stanford, princeton, etc.

  • Stats:

    Uhhh… just because a higher percentage of students are admitted from the early pool doesn't mean it is an advantage. A higher percentage may be admitted, but it is very likely that the early pool is generally more qualified.

  • alum:

    That Faustean bargain with applicants is the "crutch" that Poster #2 talks about above.

    It is shameful for Yale to exploit this yield-boosting device which Harvard and Princeton have foresworn in favor of a level playing field for all applicants, regardless of their degree of preparation and coaching.

  • Anonymous:

    Hahaha… "level" playing field? You are living in a dreamworld if you think ANYTHING is level about college admissions, including making it just RD as opposed to EA. Yale should spend more time recruiting minorities, low-income students, etc… but I really don't think arbitrary deadlines -- especially in a nonbinding program -- create an "unfair" playing field…

  • Alum:

    Last year, about one out of five Yale applicants applied through the early pool, yet an astonishing two-thirds of the eventual matriculants were early pool applicants.

    Counting early applicants eventually admitted after deferral, perhaps 25% of early applicants were admitted, while only something over 5% of the "lowly" regular applicants were admitted.

    Applicants and their advisors are increasingly aware of this disparity, and thus the huge surge in early applications.

    The message: if you want to get in, apply early.

    The fringe benefit for Yale: a yield rate of 80% from early pool admits, while less than 50% from regular applicants admitted.

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