Despite the continued surge of applicants to other Ivy League schools, the number of applications to the Yale class of 2014 fell slightly compared to last year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced Thursday — a phenomenon administrators and college counselors said they could not explain.
An estimated 25,800 students have submitted applications, down from last year’s record-breaking high of 26,000. Meanwhile, Harvard and Princeton continued to receive record numbers of applications with increases of 5 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Brown also saw a 20 percent increase in applicants, while Dartmouth registered a 4 percent rise.
While he acknowledged the growth in applicant pools at other colleges this year, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeff Brenzel said he could not speculate on why Yale seems to have bucked the trend.
“Fluctuations from school to school, from year to year, are unknowable,” Brenzel said. “There are many possible causes, and this could just be random.”
He added that over time Yale has seen “phenomenal growth in applications,” citing the doubling of applications over the past decade. He said it is also important to look at the composition of an applicant pool, adding that Yale continues to attract and yield top-quality candidates.
Of the applicants, 5,621 students applied under Yale’s single-choice early action program, also a slight decline from the previous admissions Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
cle. This year also saw a small rise in the number of male, low-income and minority applicants, Brenzel said. Yale expects to accept between 1,900 to 2,000 applicants, maintaining the 7.5 percent admission rate recorded last year, Brenzel added. A total of 730 students have already been admitted under Yale’s early action program.
Over the past three admissions cycles, Brenzel said, growth in Yale’s application numbers totaled 35 percent, outstripping Harvard, which saw a 27 percent rise and Princeton, which saw a 16 percent rise. (Still, growth at Yale over the last decade has fluctuated; the class of 2011 saw a four-year low in the number of applications received.)
Given this dramatic increase, Yale’s application numbers may have peaked a little earlier than its competitors’, University President Richard Levin said Thursday.
Of six college counselors interviewed, none said they could see a definitive explanation for this year’s drop, though three mentioned Yale’s growing selectivity as a possible factor.
“At Maret, the most important factor is the perception of getting in,” said Leonard King, college counselor at the Maret School in Washington. “Some people may have decided not to apply because their chances are so slight.”
Darby McHugh, a college counselor at the Bronx High School of Science in New York, said her school’s top applicants typically apply early to Yale. But when most of them are rejected or deferred, their peers may be reluctant to submit regular-decision applications.
McHugh also pointed to the negative press surrounding the widely publicized murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 and the death of Andre Narcisse ’12 several weeks later as a possible factor.
Jane Horn, director of college counseling at the Kent Denver School, in Englewood, Co., said she recalled a noticeable dip in applications to the University of Colorado after it was rocked by a football sex scandal in 2004. But she said the recent deaths at Yale did not seem to have affected where her students chose to apply.
While college counselors were unable to reach a consensus on why fewer students applied to Yale this year, all six interviewed said the numbers will likely have little impact on Yale in the longer term.
Brenzel said he did not want to speculate about the future but is confident Yale will continue to attract the same caliber of applicants.
Horn described this year’s numbers as an “anomaly” and said while she expects Yale to “take a hit” in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, she has seen no indication of a shift in college preferences among her students.
“Schools tend to have hot and cold years,” Sachs said. “Being a little down will not affect the strength of the incoming class because application numbers far exceed what they can admit.”
If anything, he added, prospective members of the class of 2015 might think this year’s lower numbers will reduce selectivity, encouraging them to apply.
Applicants to the Yale College of 2014 will receive their application decisions April 1.