Unlike some of its peer institutions, Yale College saw almost no change in the number of early applications it received this year compared to last fall.

Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said Yale has 5,257 early applicants this year — four fewer than the 5,261 students who applied early last year — vying for about 750 spots. This consistency stands in contrast to Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, both of which received more early applications than last fall. College counselors said Yale is still popular with students, but factors such as low admission rates and recruiting strategies could have impacted applications.

Jane Horn, director of college counseling at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colo., said that the school’s only early applicant to Yale last year was rejected. Five regular decision applicants from Kent Denver were rejected and one was waitlisted, but none was offered admission. This year, she said, four students applied early action. But Horn said she thinks other students were discouraged from applying because of last year’s outcomes or because they did not want to be limited to applying to only one school early, as Yale’s “single-choice” early action program requires.

“Fewer students are likely to go the single-choice early action route if they feel that their chances of getting in are bad,” Horn said.

In an interview with the Stanford Daily, Director of Admissions Bob Patterson said Stanford received 7 percent more early action applications this year than it did last year. Penn saw a 17-percent increase in early decision applications this year, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda told the Daily Pennsylvanian.

But Brenzel said early application volume may not be a good indicator of a school’s success in recruiting a strong applicant pool.

“For the most selective schools in particular, you want to know whether your counts of the most competitive applicants are holding steady or increasing, as distinct from whether more students with little chance of admission are applying,” he said in an e-mail Monday.

Sarah Boocock Beyreis ’85 GRD ’94, director of college counseling for Cincinnati Country Day School in Cincinnati, Ohio, said she thought schools like Penn and Stanford may have recruited applicants more aggressively than Yale, driving up application counts.

Yale’s recruitment focuses on “students who have a real chance of admission,” Brenzel said, adding that the University tries to attract the best candidates for Yale specifically.

Nancy Beane, a college counselor at the Westminster Schools, a private Christian day school in Atlanta, Ga., said five students from her school applied to Yale early this year, as opposed to nine last year. Beane said that she thinks some of her former students applied to Yale early because its early program is non-binding.

This year, she said, she tried to discourage seniors from applying early to Yale unless they were truly interested in attending, though she said she does not know if students took her advice into consideration. She attributed the decline in applicants from the Westminster Schools to the personal preferences of its seniors this year, rather than to an overall drop in Yale’s popularity with high school seniors.

Early applicants to Yale will be notified of the outcomes of their applications in mid-December.

Correction: November 17, 2010

A graphic accompanying the article “Early apps constant” misrepresented the number of early applications Stanford received.