While the number of applications to Yale College so far this year is comparable to figures at the same time last year, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel cautioned against making any early predictions about this year’s admissions cycle, which begins with the early action deadline this coming Sunday.
Yale posted a record 26,000 applications last year, leading to an admit rate of 7.5 percent — the lowest in its history. Brenzel noted, however, that economic conditions, demographic shifts, competition for financial aid and media reporting about acceptance rates are among a host of variables that make predicting admissions trends difficult from year to year.
“Admissions deans with any experience know it is foolish to predict application numbers for any given year,” he said, noting that although Yale has seen a significant increase in applicants over the past decade, application figures fluctuate from year to year.
Applications rose to 26,000 from 12,000 over the last 10 years, Brenzel said, and increased by 3,200 from 2008 to 2009. But two years before, he noted, applications actually fell to 19,000 from 21,000 before bouncing back to 23,000 in 2008.
Brenzel said the number of international applications has grown at a faster rate than domestic applications in recent years. In the 1999 to 2000 admissions cycle, 12 percent of applicants were international. In the 2008 to 2009 admissions cycle, this figure had risen to 17 percent.
While he said that he does not know whether this trend will continue this year, Brenzel confirmed that Yale ideally seeks to admit around 10 percent of its incoming class — approximately 1,300 students — from the international pool. In the class of 2013, 8.8 percent of students are international.
The dozen students, parents and college guidance counselors interviewed agreed that it is difficult to predict whether admits rates to highly selective private colleges such as Yale will continue to fall this year. But 11 said they think a rise in admit rates would be unlikely.
“Schools like Yale, Harvard and Princeton remain the gold standard for most graduating seniors, and I don’t think this will change this year,” said Martha Lynman, director of college advising at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.
Leonard King, director of college counseling at the Maret School in Washington, D.C. said that in a bad economy, parents ascribe greater value to quality education so they are more willing to make financial sacrifices in order to send their children to brand-name schools like Yale.
Indeed, Sandy Bean, coordinator of the college and career center at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, also in Washington, said the number of early applications from her school to Yale increased this year.
“Usually we have about five early applications each year,” she said. “This year we have around 12 to 15.”
A similar trend appears to be playing out at the Menlo-Atherton High School outside San Francisco, where Alice Kleeman, the school’s college advisor, said teachers have been “swamped” with early requests for recommendations.
Kleeman said she thinks this spike in early applications is partly due to the budget crisis currently affecting California’s state universities, driving students to apply to out-of-state colleges.
But not all surveyed agreed that this year’s admissions cycle will be as competitive as last year’s.
Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, said he predicts a decline in applications to highly selective private colleges and a rise in applications to state and community colleges, largely as a consequence of the current economic climate.
The early action deadline this year is Nov. 1, and regular decision applications are due Dec. 31.