Early admit rate plunges to 13.4 percent

Yale admitted 13.4 percent of its early action applicants for the class of 2013, a sharp drop from last year’s 18.1 percent early admission rate, the University said Monday.

A total of 742 early applicants were granted admission from a record pool of 5,557, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel told the News. The admissions office also sent rejection letters to more than twice as many early applicants as they did last year, denying 38.3 percent of applicants while deferring 47.6 percent to the regular decision round.

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Last year, 885 early applicants were admitted from a pool of 4,888, for an acceptance rate of 18.1 percent. Yale rejected 16 percent of early applicants and deferred 65 percent.

Yale decided to admit fewer students this year despite the 13.7 percent increase in early applications because an unexpectedly high number of students admitted early from the class of 2012 chose to matriculate, Brenzel said.

“Last year, we speculated that significantly fewer of our most competitive early applicants might have Yale as their first choice school,” he said in a statement provided to the News. “However, our yield from the early process declined only modestly, and with this knowledge, I felt we should restrict the number of early offers this year and leave more room for regular decision offers.”

Last year, 80 percent of students admitted under Yale’s early action program chose to enroll, a drop from about 88 percent in prior years. Still, because 885 students were accepted during the early round, more than half of the matriculating class of 2012 was composed of students admitted early.

Brenzel said the early applicant pool was “extremely strong,” as it has been in past years. He attributed the high quality of the applicant pool in part to the elimination of early application options at Harvard and Princeton universities, as well as the strength of Yale’s new financial aid policy, which is particularly attractive given the country’s recent economic downturn.

The decision to reject a higher proportion of applicants harks back to a similar practice employed several years ago, Brenzel said in an interview Monday. He described the decision to reject more applicants as a “challenging tradeoff”: While it is difficult to reject well-qualified applicants during the early round, giving them a final decision in December allows them to focus on their other applications.

The four college counselors interviewed Monday all said they saw advantages to rejecting a higher proportion of early applicants if the students would be rejected later during the regular decision process.

Yale’s decision to reject more early applicants who would not have been competitive in the regular round is “merciful,” said Alice Kleeman, a college advisor at Menlo-Atherton High School, a public school near Palo Alto, Calif.

“It’s a wake up call, while students still have time, to apply to some less selective colleges that might be a better match for them,” she said. “Deferred students have the right to believe that they are credible applicants. If they go on believing they are credible applicants when indeed they are not, that’s not doing them any favors.”

Still, while applicants can benefit from receiving bad news early, even students rejected from Yale are highly qualified, said Leonard King, director of college counseling at the Maret School in Washington, D.C.

“You could probably fill the class with the kids that Yale’s rejecting and still have a very strong class,” he said.

The drop in the overall admit rate correlates to the influx of applications Yale received this year, which King partly attributed to the attractiveness of Yale’s financial aid and early action policies during the current economic recession. Students who otherwise would have considered applying to schools with binding early decision programs may have chosen to apply early to Yale so they could compare financial aid packages, he said.

Stanford University accepted 12.8 percent of applicants to its non-binding early action program this year, a drop of 3.4 percentage points compared to last year. Dartmouth College admitted 25.9 percent of applicants to its binding early decision program this year, representing a 2.1 percentage point decline in acceptances compared to last year.

The remaining four colleges in the Ivy League with early decision programs have not yet released admissions statistics.

Of the 5,557 applications, 43 were withdrawn or incomplete, Brenzel said.

The deadline for regular applications to Yale College is Dec. 31, and regular applicants will receive news of their admission decision in early April.


  • Recent Alum

    Yale should admit more students early. With so many outstanding students who have Yale as their unqualified first choice, why should Yale encourages regular pool applicants who think that Yale is just one good school among others?

  • Anonymous


    welcome class of 2013

  • @ #1

    For Yale, the early action program is not binding; students who apply early to Yale can apply elsewhere (even if accepted) and may not have Yale as their first choice.

  • agreed

    I totally agree with comment number 1. Though they deferred almost half of them, so hopefully those kids will get precedent…. but then they come with mixed feelings when Yale "wasn't sure" about them

  • Townie

    Who cares? The number of kids (and parents) who fall on their swords because they don't get into precious Yale continues to amaze me. Is it really THAT much better??

  • Stanford '09

    The early admit rate was lower - only 12.8% at Stanford.


  • Anonymous

    In response to comment #1, not every child has the luxury of applying to colleges early--even if Yale is their top choice. Some need to wait until the regular cycle to apply to schools so they can compare financial aid packages.

  • I was deferred.

    And then I got in regular decision. No mixed feelings there. I think it's pretty much assumed that if they have doubts, they reject you. There's too many applicants for too few spaces for them to go around letting in people they're not sure about. Getting into Yale is getting into Yale, period. The feeling is pretty much unadulterated ecstasy. Except maybe it was even sweeter because I'd waited that much longer.

    If these hypothetical kids you're talking about are too hurt that the admissions office wanted to be careful that they can't feel grateful for the opportunity they've been given, then they're self-centered losers and shouldn't come.

  • Wild-eyed Alum

    Yale should stop admitting high school seniors and only admit those who are applying during a gap year. If the university can be selective, why not take more mature students and those who have worked all the way through high school?

  • Plunger

    Plunging is the word du jour - everyone's abusing it… understandably so perhaps.

    Hopefully the Yale endowment was heavily invested in plunging.

  • Anonymous

    The article does a great job outlining this year's admission strategy and staggering numbers. It must help deferred applicants feel good about crossing that high hurdle.

  • Alum '93

    To #7 post - since Yale is SCEA, an applicant can apply to Yale in the early round and then apply to other colleges during the regular round. So, there is still an ability to compare financial aid. Thus, if Yale is your 1st choice, the only reasons why you would not apply during the early round are 1) you are not prepared to do so and need the extra 2 months, or 2) your grades and test scores are not as great as you want and you want the extra 2 months to increase them. Financial aids would NOT be a reason.

    Of course, this reasoning implies that the applicant knows about Yale's financial aid policy. This can be easily done by checking Yale's financial aid website, but maybe not all applicants realize this.

  • @ Stanford 09'

    Yes… the admit rate was significantly lower last year early at Stanford than at Yale. It is the regular and combined "overall" admit rate that is lower @ Yale.

  • Alum '08

    #7 - This is an argument that has never made sense to me. Yale's early action program is non-binding - applicants can compare finaid packages to their hearts' content.

  • Stanford '09

    Stanford's early admit rate was lower THIS year as well as last year for early applicants. What's more, its yield rate last year was 71% vs. 67.6% at Yale, even though Yale boosted its yield by filling 2/3 of the freshman class with people from the early applicant pool.

  • Anonymous

    To Comment #11: You should probably qualify your comments with evidence before you post them. Yes, a deferral is not as bad as a rejection but it comes at a close second. An applicant sits tight for six weeks and comes almost to the point of emotional melt down before they read their letter regarding their application and then the Office of Admissions says that they need more time. So the applicant has to wait three months and there is no real way to strengthen your application. You just have to wait.

  • Y11

    In other news, US News and World Report relayed the newly-released student emotion statistics last week. While Yale showed relatively no change since 2007 with 89.3% students deeming it "very good," Stanford posted a two-point boost to 84%. However, there was a 20% spike in Stanford's "bitter about rejection at Yale" statistics and a nearly 14.5% jump in the number of students that "insecurely monitor other college daily forums." As many as 45% of the student body reported they could "name the early admission statistics of other elite schools in an effort to feel good about themselves" off the tops of their heads, compared to 22.3% at Yale and 25.5% at Harvard.

  • @ Stanford '09

    As already stated, Yale had the lower overall admit rate (as well as not mentioned stuff like higher SAT averages, GPA averages, etc). Yes, Stanford had very slightly higher yield, but many have speculated that Stanford plays into significantly more "yield protection" than any other elite university by accepting students with lower stats and focusing on student "interest."

    But the bottom line is that this argument is trivial. Find something better to do with your time -- obviously you have enough respect for Yale to proactively go on our comments and try to trash it.

    P.S. I transferred from Stanford and I couldn't be happier 😛

  • Stanford '09

    1. For the Class of 2012, there were 160 cross admits shared by Stanford and Yale. 80 chose Stanford and 80 chose Yale.

    2. Yale's yield rate is artificially boosted by filling a higher fraction of the class from the high-yield early pool than any other major univerity in America.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, Stanford 09, you care a little bit too much.

  • Stanford '10 or Yale '10

    You'll never know! Unless someone at the college daily checks IP addresses …

    That's like, so weird, so spooky, so raaaaaad. I could be anybody … sorry.

    Onto the philosophical point:

    Who $^#%@$& cares?

  • Y10

    Stanford'09. In addition to it being ridiculous that seem to troll the newspaper comments pages of other schools' student papers, you might want to note that Yale has reduced the number of students accepted SCEA this year precisely because they ended up having a much higher SCEA yield than they expected last year. That is, they didn't want to admit that high a percentage of the class early - they overestimated the effect that Harvard and Princeton eliminating EA/ED would have on Yale's SCEA yield. And as for your stat about Yale and Stanford exactly splitting cross-admits, perhaps that shows that the two schools are about equal in attractiveness to students. I was accepted SCEA to Stanford, chose Yale instead, and have tremendous respect for both schools - there's no reason to show up here and bitch at us.

  • Yale '07

    I'm glad I enrolled at Yale back in '03 instead of now. I am curious to see what the student body is like after these ridiculously selective classes enroll! Admissions should be completely random, now that would make for an interesting class!

  • 2013 Admit

    To #17: Those statistics seem about right.

  • Hieronymus

    to #7: futher, given that any "underprivileged" applicant to Yale gets a free ride, exactly WHAT are those students comparing?

    Hmm… a free ride to Yale versus a 90% discount to, uh, Ohio State?

    Or if it is, say, an H-Y-P comparison (or equivalent), then, again, the comparison since all are essentially free (and, hence, early app serves its fundamental purpose of alerting one's first choice).

  • Yale 2010


    Could it possibly be that BOTH Stanford AND Yale are top-tier schools that will offer a wonderful education and provide excellent opportunities to the students who get in?

    Could it also be that some students will prefer Stanford to Yale, and others will prefer Yale to Stanford, but they more or less are pulling from the same applicant pool?

    Could it be that, unfortunately, neither Stanford nor Yale has room for all of the talented, intelligent students who apply?

    Could it be that these statistics (yield rate, early admit rate, etc.) change from year to year and sometimes they make Yale look good, but other times they make Stanford look good? Could it be that these numbers say nothing about the quality of the school or the quality of the students?

    Did any of you look at these numbers when applying to colleges? No, you looked at the campus, at the majors and classes offered, at financial aid, and, I'm willing to bet, at what the weather is like in the winter. ALL of these things are more important when assessing how good a school is than the numbers and facts about the admissions process you all have been throwing at each other.

    Get a life. All of you.

  • Anonymous

    Ah yes, the great Stephen Hawking. He's the one who proved that writing a series of disdainful comments in response to a college newspaper article is a good way to demonstrate superior maturity and intellectual capacity, as well as a deeper than usual knowledge of what uses of one's time are most indicative of one's potential to contribute to humanity's most significant achievements.

    Did I get that right, Mr. Please?

  • Tom Smith

    Wow! This has to be the most pompous comment board I've ever seen. To the excessively voluble: either you are all underclassmen with something to prove or serious procrastinators who have left studies to the wayside. Regardless, I implore you, do get a life!

  • Yale Early Action Deferree

    I was deferred and it sucked for about an hour and then i was ecstatic to have not been rejected. I know for me Yale was my first choice but for others who i know they were accepted and won't accept should they get into another top tier school, like Harvard.
    At the end of the Yale Admissions class are putting together a comprehensive competitive class to attend their university and the statistics mean close to nothing for applicants who really like the schools they are applying to early or other wise.

  • robert62

    Commentator #26 deserves a prize for wisdom.

  • Regular Decision Applicant

    To #14: Not applying early in order to compare financial aid packages is a completely valid reason. Many universities give scholarship/aid priority to students who apply during an "early filing period" or something similar. The decisions from these schools come back in mid-December, which is not allowed under Yale's SCEA policy. In order to have the best chances for financial aid at other schools, students must forfeit their ability to apply SCEA to Yale because.