Invitations to join Yale’s waitlist for the class of 2013 were harder to come by this year.

Yale offered positions on its waitlist to 769 applicants, down 27 percent from to last year’s total of 1,052. In other words, the percentage of the applicant pool that was offered a position on the waitlist dropped to 3.0 percent of the applicant pool, from 4.6 percent last year.

Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said this shift is simply a return to past policy, which involved smaller waitlists. Regardless, the reduction in waitlist positions drew praise from five college counselors interviewed Tuesday.

Brenzel said Yale increased the number of positions on the waitlist for applicants to the class of 2012 because of a “great deal of uncertainty” regarding yield, the rate at which admitted students choose to matriculate. That class was the first admitted after Harvard and Princeton universities eliminated their early admissions programs, raising questions about whether Yale’s yield might drop.

“This year, we have admitted more students already and we feel that there is not as much uncertainty overall,” he said in an e-mail. “So we have simply returned to the number we historically offered a position on the waitlist.”

He added: “We did not want to keep students in suspense where we felt it was unlikely we would make an offer.”

Yale offered positions on the waitlist to 859 applicants to the Yale class of 2011 and to 700 applicants the previous year.

Still, in a time when waitlists at many colleges are expanding, Yale’s smaller waitlist is a welcome change, five college counselors interviewed said. Especially given the economic crisis, the uncertainty surrounding admitted students’ matriculation decisions may be even greater than usual, they said.

Many institutions use waitlists as a means of letting some applicants down gently, said Jon Reider, director of college counseling at the private San Francisco University High School. In turn, he dubbed Yale’s decrease in waitlist positions is “an attempt to bring some sanity” to an already stressful process.

“It’s great not to string kids along,” Reider said. “I really applaud this because I think waitlists have become a catch-all.”

Mary Anne Modzelewski, director of college counseling at the private Sandia Prep in Albuquerque, N.M., said Yale will still have a large number of highly qualified students available on its waitlist this year, even if its yield rate unexpectedly falls more than expected.

Last year, Yale extended offers of admission to 60 of the 1,052 students on the waitlist, Brenzel said. Harvard admitted about 200 students from its waitlist last year after its yield fell slightly below projections, The Crimson reported last year.