Yale accepted 649 early applicants from a total pool of 4,514 this year, making the University’s 14.4 percent acceptance rate the lowest in the Ivy League. Harvard, Princeton and Brown — which received 4,856, 3,810 and 3,010 applications, respectively — all accepted roughly 18 percent of their early action and early decision pools and were the most competitive schools after Yale. Despite plummeting early acceptance rates among competitive colleges, college counselors interviewed said they have not seen noticeable variation in the numbers of students admitted to Ivy League schools from their schools.
With the exception of Dartmouth, the eight Ivy League schools all reported increases in early application counts for the class of 2017. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said he has seen applications rising steadily at selective universities such as the Ivies for the past 15 years.
Kent Denver School college counselor Jane Horn said in an email that the overall acceptance rate for her students to the Ivies has remained “fairly consistent,” but added that each year’s success rate at individual schools varies widely.
Andrew McNeill, college counselor at the Taft School in Watertown, Conn., said low acceptance rates have not deterred his students from applying early, adding that three-fourths of seniors at his school submit early applications.
“Most of the schools that practice early decision legitimately are a little easier to get into earlier than in regular … so our kids apply because they have the advantage,” McNeill said. He added that if students are unwilling to commit to a school early, they often choose early action programs — such as Yale’s — to either “take a crack at” getting in or use as a backup.
Still, Michael Hallman, college counselor at The Meadows School in Las Vegas, said he encourages students to apply early to a school only if they are particularly interested and have a significant chance at acceptance. Otherwise, he said, he encourages students to build up more qualifications and apply in the later regular decision rounds.
Tom Walsh, college counselor at Roxbury Latin School — where two out of four students were accepted in Yale’s early round — said in an email that he believes the early application process benefits high school students applying to college because it can “streamline the process, simplifying the process in the long run.” Walsh added that an early acceptance to a school can significantly reduce the number of other schools a student will later apply to, reducing the number of overall college applications in an already “overflowing” system.
Students who applied to any of the Ivy League schools’ early programs were notified of their decisions mid-December. Cindy Xue, a high school senior from New York who was accepted early to Yale, said that finding out about her acceptance was a “moment of pure happiness.” Xue added that she is fairly certain she will attend Yale, especially after communicating with other accepted students on Facebook and reading about academic and extracurricular opportunities at Yale.
Kathleen Yu, an accepted student from Maryland, also said she is mostly certain that she will attend Yale in the fall.
“Seeing the bulldog on my computer screen was probably one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said. “I started screaming and crying. … I think I walked around with a smile on my face for the entire weekend.”
Another accepted student, Mimi Pham from Florida, said she will “definitely choose Yale” and did not apply to any other schools after receiving her early acceptance.
Students accepted under the early action programs at Harvard, Yale or Princeton have until May 1 to make an official decision. Students accepted under early decision programs are required to withdraw all applications to other universities.