Yale College applications reach record high

Yale received a record-high total of 30,922 applications for the class of 2018, cracking the 30,000 mark for the first time.

The number of applications the University receives each year has doubled since 2002 when about 15,000 students applied to be a part of the class of 2006. This year’s application total marks a 4.4 percent increase over last year’s application count of 29,611. Because Yale expects to admit the same total number of students as it did last year — about 2,000 — the acceptance rate this year will likely drop below last year’s 6.72 percent. The University’s acceptance rate for its early action program this year was 15.5 percent — 735 students were accepted out of 4,750 early applicants.

The number of applications jumped 3 percent last year for the class of 2017, after increases of 5.8 percent and 5 percent for the classes of 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Despite receiving more applications each year, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said in an email that he is confident the admissions office has the resources to thoroughly and holistically evaluate each candidate. He added that the admissions office employs more admissions officers and begins committee deliberations earlier each year in order to ensure that decisions are still handed out in the spring.

Year-to-year fluctuations in the number of total applications are less significant than long-term trends, Quinlan said in a statement. He cited increased demographic and international diversity and the rise of the use of tools such as the online Common Application as examples of some recent trends.

Quinlan said that unlike some other universities, Yale does not seek to raise the number of applications it receives in order to report higher statistics. The University restrains its outreach efforts to target only students who would be very competitive applicants, he said.

In recent years, the admissions office has focused on conveying Yale’s affordability and accessibility to minority students and high-achieving, low-income students. According to Quinlan, both groups saw increases in application numbers this year, an indication that the University’s ongoing marketing efforts are proving successful.

Three of the four other Ivy League schools that have reported admissions numbers so far also saw continued increases in the number of applications received. The number of high school students who applied to the University of Pennsylvania surged by 14 percent this year, from 31,250 applications last year to 35,788 this year. Brown University, like Yale, also broke the 30,000-application ceiling with a 4 percent uptick in applications. 30,291 students sought admission at Brown this year.

Still, Princeton and Harvard, the only Ivy League schools other than Yale that practice non-binding early action programs, saw a slowdown from years of consistently rising numbers. 26,498 students applied to Princeton this year, making for a negligible 0.4 percent uptick from last year. Harvard College’s applicant pool actually contracted by two percent, from 35,023 to 34,295 applications.

Educational consultants and experts interviewed were divided on whether the number of applications to selective colleges would continue growing.

“The decline in applications at Harvard and the stagnation at Princeton suggests to me that we’re reaching a ceiling for now,” said Richard Avitabile, a former admissions officer at New York University. “Although numbers might fluctuate from year to year, I doubt that we’ll see another doubling of the applicant pool [at top schools] in the next decade.”

According to a report entitled “Knocking at the College Door,” created by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, fewer students will apply to college from the Northeast and Midwest and more students will apply from the South and West in the near future because of demographic shifts across the country. Avitabile said that this trend may affect Ivy League schools because their applicant base is disproportionately located in the Northeast.

Both William Morse ’64 GRD ’74, a former admissions officer at Yale, and Chuck Hughes, a former admissions officer at Harvard and the president of college admissions consulting service Road to College, disagreed with Avitabile’s prediction.

Morse said that even if Yale has “maxed out” traditional pockets of college applicants such as New York or New England, the University is in the process of reaching more students from non-traditional college backgrounds. He added that as more low-income students realize the generosity and strength of financial aid programs at schools such as Yale and Harvard, the number of applications Yale receives will continue to rise.

“If anything, I think the growth rate will be even more aggressive in the next decade,” Hughes said, adding that although Yale has tapped most geographic regions in America, the international applicant pool will provide the bulk of any future growth in the overall applicant pool.

As the number of spots available at each selective college stays steady despite the rising number of applications, high school students interviewed said the plummeting admission rates of Yale and its peer schools make for an anxious college process.

Ellie Nayes, a high school senior from Texas applying to Yale, said the college application process is stressful because she is competing against the brightest students in the country.

“The college application process is scary, to say the least. From the time I spent writing my essays up until I pressed submit, I was scared,” said Reymundo Cano, a senior from California. “I know that every year the applicant pool [at Yale] gets more competitive. It took some guts to apply outside my comfort zone, which was the [University of California] public school system.”

This was the second year that applicants to Yale were afforded the opportunity to share their application with Yale-NUS, the liberal arts college Yale founded in partnership with the National University of Singapore. The number of applicants who elected to submit their applications to Yale-NUS has yet to be released.

The admissions committee will meet from the middle of February through March to deliberate. Yale, along with the other Ivy League schools, will release its decisions on March 27.

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