Yale’s current freshman class is one of the most diverse in the University’s history, but while each student may be unique, about 53 percent share at least one trait in common: They were admitted through Yale’s early action program.

Last year Yale admitted 885 of its 4,888 early applicants, and a higher-than-anticipated 80 percent of early admits chose to matriculate, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel told the News on Monday. While Brenzel released the overall yield for the class of 2012 last spring, the early admissions yield had not previously been disclosed.

While the class of 2012 had an unusually strong early applicant pool, Brenzel said the admissions office will likely not accept as many students early this year from a record pool of between 5,400 and 5,500 early applicants. Brenzel also said he expects fewer students will be deferred during the upcoming college admissions cycle. Half a dozen college guidance counselors interviewed said students would benefit if Yale decreased the number of students admitted through its early program, which they said may advantage some students over others.

“We did take more students last year from a record-shattering early pool, and we somewhat underestimated how many would accept our offer,” Brenzel said in an e-mail. “We were very glad to have these students, but we ended up with somewhat less room in the spring than I would like.”

While Yale saw an average yield rate of about 88 percent for its early admits in the classes of 2007 to 2010, the admissions office anticipated a significant drop in yield last year, the first admissions cycle during which Harvard and Princeton universities did not offer early admission options, Brenzel said.

In the end, there was a drop in yield, but it was relatively minor.

The office cannot predict whether the number of early admits will continue to drop in future early applicant pools, since applicants are considered individually.

“We do not take a student in the early process unless we are sure we would take them in the spring as well,” Brenzel wrote.

Still, the news that Yale might decrease the number of early admits during this admissions cycle drew praise from the half-dozen college counselors interviewed.

A reduction in the number of students admitted early would be a “healthy” change for Yale, said Alice Kleeman, a college advisor at Menlo-Atherton High School, a public school near Palo Alto, Calif.

“The higher percentage of the class that’s admitted early at any high-profile college, the more it contributes to a student’s perception that they should apply early somewhere,” she said.

In order to take advantage of early admissions, many high school students will “put the cart before the horse,” choosing to apply early before they have a sense of what school they would most like to attend, said Jane Horn, director of college counseling at the Kent Denver School in Colorado.

Early admission programs can advantage students with access to strong college counselors since less-prepared students may not be adequately informed about early options, she added.

Early admits constituted 45.3 percent of all admitted students to the class of 2012, compared to 37.1 percent for the class of 2011 and 39 percent for the class of 2010.

Three college counselors expressed surprise that such a high percentage of current Yale freshmen had been admitted early.

Michael Hallman, college counselor at the Meadows School in Las Vegas, said the number seemed “extraordinarily high.”

“When you admit 53 percent of the [matriculating] class through the early action program, that definitely is going to tighten up the competition for regular decision applicants,” he said.

Three college counselors, including Frank Sachs, director of college counseling at the Blake School in Minneapolis, said a shift in the number of deferrals could be a good idea, while the three other counselors interviewed declined to comment on this issue.

“I think deferrals should be for people who really have a chance of getting in,” Sachs said.

Yale will release its decisions to early applicants in less than a month, allowing students to access their decision on the admissions Web site in mid December.