Yale is the only Ivy League school to report a decrease in the total number of applications it received this year, with all but one of the eight universities having released their statistics.
Applications to Yale decreased by 1.2 percent from 19,675 applications last year to 19,430 applications this year. Princeton received an unprecedented total of 16,077 applications, a 17 percent increase from last year, and Harvard received a record high of 22,717 applications, a 15 percent increase from the total number of applications received for the class of 2008. With a 10 percent increase in applications, Brown also received its highest number of applications yet, with over 16,800 applications.
Other Ivy League schools enjoyed significant increases Cornell University, Dartmouth College and Columbia University saw their applications increase by 14 percent, 7 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Cornell received over 24,000 applications, Dartmouth received 12,625 applications, and Columbia received 18,236 applications. The University of Pennsylvania has not yet reported how many applications it received.
Outside of the Ivy League, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology saw a 0.07 percent decrease in applications, with 10,459 applications received.
Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said he was not concerned about the small drop in Yale applicants, and that he thought the University — which received a record number of applications last year — was still “way up there” in terms of the aggregate number of applicants.
“We have to put this all into context,” Shaw said. “Numbers don’t make the institution. There’s a huge mistake in assuming that because A went up 5 percent, B went up 10 percent and C went down that C is falling from grace. That’s just not true. These trends go up and down. If it was a precipitated drop I’d worry, but we had a record high last year.”
But Josh Eidelson ’06, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, said he thought that the decline in applications to Yale would continue until the University moves towards financial aid reforms in line with reforms Harvard and Princeton have recently instituted.
This year, Harvard introduced the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, under which students from families earning $40,000 or less are not required to pay a parental contribution, and students from families in the $40,000 to $60,000 income bracket pay a reduced parental contribution. In 2001, Princeton introduced a policy that eliminated the loan requirement for students on financial aid, replacing loans with grants.
“I think it demonstrates that as long as Yale falls short compared to peer institutions in opening its doors to as wide a range of students as possible, Yale will be at a competitive disadvantage in attracting the best students it can,” Eidelson said. “Until Yale moves on this issue, outstanding low-income students will continue to choose other schools.”
In a Jan. 17 interview with the News, Yale University President Richard Levin said the University was trying to assess whether it should move in the direction of the financial aid reforms implemented by Harvard last year. Levin also said he thought Yale was successful this year in recruiting low-income students.
“We’ve looked this year at how we’ve fared in attracting low-income students,” Levin said. “The answer is this past year we were more successful than ever before relative to our competition in attracting low income students with the exception of Harvard.”
Admissions experts cited the increase in the number of high school graduates this year as one of the main factors behind the general rise in applications. While there were about 2.5 million high school graduates in 1995, there will be about 3 million high school graduates in 2005, and the increase will continue until around 2009, David Hawkins, director of public policy for the National Association of College Admissions Counseling said.
Harvard Director of Admissions Marilyn McGrath Lewis said she attributed Harvard’s rise in applications primarily to vigorous recruiting efforts and to the recent changes in the university’s aid policy.
“I think it’s a convergence of good recruiting and the increased feeling of accessibility on the financial front, and an improved recognition that Harvard is affordable for students who have financial need,” Lewis said.
Princeton Dean of Admissions Janet Rapelye said in a press release that she attributed Princeton’s rise in applications to the introduction of a new Web-based application form this year, as well as to increased recruitment efforts.
Similarly, Dartmouth Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenberg said in an interview that he attributed Dartmouth’s rise in applications to enhanced outreach efforts to prospective students through e-mail and Internet communications.