In line with the increasing national popularity of early decision and early action programs, the number of applicants to most Ivy League schools rose this year, with a few universities’ numbers remaining constant and Brown University showing a 3 percent decrease.

The most dramatic increases were seen at Yale and Harvard universities. Yale received 2,600 early decision applications this year, a 23 percent increase from last year’s count of 2,100, while Harvard saw a 24.3 percent increase in its early action applications, from 6,125 to 7,615.

Both Princeton and Columbia universities saw 11 percent increases from last year, receiving 2,350 and 1,785 applications, respectively. The University of Pennsylvania saw a 12 percent increase with 3,401 applications. Dartmouth College experienced an 8 percent increase to 1,210 applications, its highest in five years.

The number of early applications to Stanford and Cornell universities remained relatively stable. Stanford received 2,475 early applications for its class of 2007, up 3 percent from 2,391 last year. Cornell received 2,507 applications this year, up from 2,435 applications last year. Cornell Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Angela Griffin-Jones said in an e-mail that she expects the number of regular applications to correspond closely to last year’s numbers.

Martin Wilder, vice president for admission, counseling and enrollment practices at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, or NACAC, said his organization’s surveys on admissions trends show that applications are up across the country, not just at Ivy League institutions. NACAC is a national coalition of high school counselors and college admissions and financial aid officers.

“I think nationally, there has been a trend towards more students applying to various early programs,” he said. “Some of that is particularly pronounced at the most selective institutions.”

Bucking the national trend, Brown University received 1,863 applications, a 3 percent decrease from last year. Brown switched from an early action policy to a binding early decision program last year.

Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said he was pleased with the number of applications Yale received and said he expects even more next year as the University switches to a nonbinding early action policy.

“This is a number that is reasonable and manageable and it’s the highest we’ve ever seen,” he said. “There’s no question that we’ll see larger numbers next year.”

Last month, Yale announced its new early action policy, which prohibits students from applying to other schools early. Stanford University announced a similar change the same day Yale did.

Nancy Colley, a guidance counselor at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Kansas, said in the past few years she has seen a significant increase in the number of high school students applying early.

“Three years ago, I saw a huge increase in the number of students applying early action [and] early decision,” she said.