With its record low acceptance rate this year, Yale followed the trend of decreased rates at most other top universities — but, unlike its peers, at Yale it was caused by fewer acceptance letters going out rather than more applications coming in.

Yale also had the second-lowest overall admit rate this year amongst top universities, at 9.7 percent, falling short only to Harvard, which accepted 9.1 percent of its applicant pool. For most schools, this increased selectivity is the result of a rise in total applications, admissions experts said, but at Yale it is the result of a decrease in the total number of students admitted to the class of 2009.

This year, applications decreased by 1.2 percent, and Yale admitted 1,880 of its 19,448 applicants, while 1,950 applicants were admitted from a pool of 19,675 applicants last year, yielding a 9.9 percent admit rate.

“We’re just being conservative,” Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said, adding that he anticipated an increase in Yale’s yield rate this year. “If we’re a little bit shy, we have a strong waiting list of kids that would love to be here.”

All of the other schools in the Ivy League, along with Stanford, saw increases in applications, with Harvard, Princeton and Brown witnessing record highs. All of those universities experienced decreases in their acceptance rates this year, with admit rates at Harvard, Stanford and Columbia hitting record lows.

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, said David Hawkins, director of public policy for the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

There is also some evidence that competitive students are filling out more applications to top schools, said Barmak Nassirian, the associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

“We certainly felt that an already competitive process just became even more competitive this year,” said Susan Paton, director of college counseling at the Hopkins School in New Haven.

Clarence Agbi, a senior at The Dalton School in New York City who is planning to attend Yale next year, agreed with Paton.

“This year, especially, a lot more of my friends applied to Ivy Leagues schools, and I didn’t expect a lot of them to be turned down, but they were,” Agbi said.

Last year, Yale had the lowest overall admit rate in the Ivy League, accepting 9.9 percent of its applicant pool. This year Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell had admit rates of 10.9 percent, 12.4 percent, 14.6 percent, 17 percent, 20.8 percent and 26.1 percent, respectively.