Yale has reported the highest percentage increase in applications in the Ivy League this year.
The University received 28,622 applications for the class of 2016, a 5.8 percent jump from last year’s 27,283 applications. In contrast, Harvard and Princeton drew 1.9 and 1.7 percent fewer applications, respectively, than they did for the class of 2015. Three college guidance counselors and admissions experts interviewed said the decrease in applications at Harvard and Princeton, as well as at other Ivy League universities, surprised them more than Yale’s increase.
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Though Cornell and Dartmouth saw application increases of 3.5 and 3 percent, respectively, Brown, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania experienced drops of 7, 8.9 and 1.7 percent, respectively.
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Chuck Hughes, president and founder of Road to College, a college admissions consulting service, attributed the lower applications numbers at several Ivy League universities in part to a growing awareness of the extreme selectivity of elite universities.
“I think what we are seeing as college consultants is kids who are really good kids who recognize when they don’t have that exceptional hook or distinguishing talent,” Hughes said. “Over the past few years, there is definitely a greater sense of realism about where they should be looking.”
But Andrew McNeill, senior associate director of college counseling at the Taft School — a private school in Watertown, Conn. — said he does not expect applications to elite schools to start trending downward in the long run.
“Until there is a paradigm shift, expect onward and upward for God and Yale and other top places,” McNeill said. “The forces that have driven the increase in applications to leading schools are still in place, so the numbers will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.”
This year marked the first application cycle in four years that Yale, Harvard and Princeton each offered early admissions policies, but experts said they cannot yet draw conclusions about their effects on the distribution of applications since the change is so recent.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said in an email Monday that too many variables affect application counts to pinpoint why they vary across years or between schools. Over the past 10 years, he said, application counts for Ivy League institutions as well as for Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have risen at “roughly similar” rates.
Last year, Yale’s acceptance rate for the class of 2015 was 7.35 percent.