Yale may post the largest increase in total applications of any school in the Ivy League this year, according to early estimates gathered from many of its peer institutions.

The University enjoyed an 11 percent increase in applications for the Class of 2008 during its first year with a nonbinding Early Action admissions program. Yale’s 19,645 applications is a record high, Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said. Several Ivy League universities, including Harvard University, saw small decreases in the total number of applicants, while Brown University reported a slight increase.

Shaw said he had a simple reason for the high number of applicants to Yale.

“I’d like to think it’s because Yale is very popular,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the increase in applications will make getting into Yale as competitive as it has ever been. Shaw said Yale could be sending out as many as 50 fewer acceptances this year, because the Class of 2007 was about 40 people too large. He said the University will not “gamble” on what its yield will end up being, so it will send too few rather than too many acceptances.

“It’s distinctly possible that we’ll [eventually admit students from] our waiting list,” he said.

Harvard information resources specialist Jessica Baumgart said Harvard’s early applications decreased from 7,614 last year to 3,889 this year — a 49 percent decrease. But with an 18 percent increase in regular applications, Harvard lost just 6 percent of total applications.

“We’re gratified that the total pool returned to a very high level, approximating last year’s record high,” Harvard Director of Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis said.

University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson said though the school lost applications, it had higher-caliber applicants.

“It seems to be the fact that students from the lower end academically are dropping out as Penn has become more selective in recent years,” Stetson said. “And therefore we have a higher percentage by some significant measure of students [who scored] over 1400 [on the SAT] applying.”

Stetson said Penn admitted 45 percent of its class early and that getting a regular acceptance will be more difficult than usual this year. He said the Class of 2008 could be the “strongest class” the school has seen.

Mary Wetherbee, assistant to Dartmouth’s dean of admissions, said the university’s numbers this year were similar to last year’s. She said the slight decrease of less than 1 percent was a normal fluctuation.

Kristen Cole, a representative from Brown’s news service, said Brown experienced a small increase from 15,157 to 15,268 applications.

The Daily Princetonian reported that Princeton had a 14 percent decrease in regular applications.

Representatives from Columbia, Cornell and Stanford were not available for comment.

Shaw said single-choice Early Action “pleased” him this year.

“I think it’s better for students,” he said.

Harvard and Stanford also switched to single-choice Early Action this year. McGrath Lewis said Harvard sees no reason to contemplate changing from single-choice Early Action at this time.