The total number of applications for the Class of 2011 decreased 9.7 percent from last year, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel announced Thursday.

Yale received 19,060 applications this year, compared to the record-high 21,101 for the Class of 2010. Of this year’s pool, 15,464 were submitted through regular decision and 3,596 were received through single-choice early action. The other Ivy League schools that have released their numbers all reported increases in their applicant pools.

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Brenzel said he does not believe the drop in the number of applicants will be detrimental to forming a strong freshman class.

“I am pleased with the strength and depth of this year’s applicant pool, and I would say again what I did last year, when we announced an unusually large increase in applications,” he said. “Our concern is not about numbers, but about the quality of the applicants, and I believe the talent, variety and preparation of the students applying from around the world to Yale is simply unsurpassed.”

President Richard Levin said the reason for the decline might be Yale’s low acceptance rate last year.

“It’s possibly because of the fact that our selectivity rate kept getting lower and lower,” he said. “People are not applying because the odds are small.”

Brenzel said he expects Yale will admit about 1,150 students in April through the regular process, in addition to the 709 applicants already accepted through early action in December. While the early acceptance rate this fall was 19.7 percent, the overall acceptance rate will likely end up at about 9.8 percent, he said.

Last year, Yale admitted 1,878 total students for an Ivy League record-low acceptance rate of 8.9 percent.

The other four Ivy League schools for which statistics are available all saw increases in their applicant pools.

Columbia University received 21,303 applications for their Class of 2011, an 7.3 percent increase over last year. Brown University reported a rise of 3.8 percent, totaling 18,951. Cornell’s pool increased by 7.5 percent to 30,191, and University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson said Penn received approximately 22,500 applications, marking a 10 percent increase.

Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth and Stanford Universities have not yet released their figures.

Brenzel said it is difficult to explain the variations in the number of applications.

“All I can note is that application numbers fluctuate,” he said. “Last year we were up by almost the same amount over the prior year that we are down this year from last year. We did not have an explanation for the surge last year, and we can’t explain the return to something close to the prior year’s level this year.”

Last year, 18,976 students applied regular and 4,084 applied early.

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey emphasized that Yale is still in an extremely competitive position despite the decrease in applications.

“We have to remember that last year’s number was record-setting,” he said. “I’d be much more concerned if there was any evidence that our pool was not of its usual high quality or if our pool was less diverse, and neither of these seem to be the case. The goal here is to make sure we have an outstanding class of 1,300 or so students.”

Some college counselors said the decline in applications is insignificant when considering the strength of the class as a whole and the long-term implications for Yale.

Jon Reider, director of college counseling at San Francisco’s private University High School and an admissions officer at Stanford from 1985 to 2000, said it is possible that students chose not to apply to Yale because of last year’s low acceptance rate. He cautioned observers against assuming the decrease is a signal that Yale is entering a “death spiral” and will fall in desirability and prestige. Instead, shifts in numbers should be kept in perspective, he said, with long-term trends such as the overall growth in applications over the past decade being more significant.

“If the numbers went down, it’s because last year they were at an all-time high,” Reider said. “These things go up and they go down, and it sounds like something interesting, but to me it’s kind of a non-story.”

Yale recently announced it would retain its early action program for next year, despite Harvard and Princeton’s decisions in September to eliminate their early admissions options for applicants starting in the fall of 2007.