Yale-NUS College increased its admission rate by 2 percentage points in the 2017 cycle, offering admission to 7 percent of its total applicants this year.
In all, 8,773 prospective students had applied for admission to the Singapore-based school when the admissions window closed this spring. Though the latest figure represents a substantial decline from the more than 12,000 applicants three years ago, it is consistent with applications received in the past two admissions cycles, when the school received more than 8,000 applications each year. With Yale College admitting 6.9 percent of its applicants in 2017, this year marks the first time that both institutions have posted near-identical admission rates since Yale-NUS opened its doors in 2013.
“There might have initially been an impression that this new school was going to be like a Yale minor-league team in some sense,” said Parke Muth, an admissions consultant and former associate dean and director of international admission at the University of Virginia. “Given how selective the admissions team [at Yale-NUS] has consistently turned out to be, it is clear that is not the case.”
Yale College joined Yale-NUS in bucking a general trend of increasing selectivity in college admissions this year. Yale too posted a higher admit rate for the class of 2021 than the class of 2020, for which 6.3 percent of applicants were accepted, and both colleges welcomed larger first-year classes this fall.
As Yale-NUS steadily grew its student intake from 157 students in 2013 to 250 this year, the school’s acceptance rate has for the second time seen a large jump. The 5 percent rate for applicants to the class of 2019 was also 2 percentage points higher than the school’s acceptance rate for the class of 2018.
Muth suggested that the increase in this year’s class size may explain the spike in acceptance rate.
“If a college is going to accept 250 instead of 200 students, a higher acceptance rate doesn’t necessarily indicate a change in policy,” he said. “There is a tendency in the U.S. to analyze small changes in admissions data, but often it is much ado about nothing.”
Despite the increase in acceptance rate, Yale-NUS remains among the most selective undergraduate institutions that use the holistic admissions process common in the U.S. In addition to Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford were the only four American colleges with lower admit rates than Yale-NUS for the 2016–17 cycle. Except for Pomona College’s 8.2 percent acceptance rate, other small selective liberal arts colleges such as Swarthmore, Williams and Middlebury had admit rates above 10 percent this cycle.
Yale-NUS also continued its policy of not sharing data detailing the high school academic performances or standardized test scores of matriculating students.
“As our applicants come from a diverse number of countries and educational systems across the globe, it is not possible to put all students on a singular scale to calculate an average test score,” Yale-NUS Admissions Director Laura Severin said. “We evaluate students based on their achievement within their curriculum so presenting average scores or cutoff scores would not be indicative of how we assess the cohort.”
Forty-five nationalities are represented in the class of 2021, including, for the first time, students from Uzbekistan, Moldova and Iran. As in the previous four classes, Singaporeans continue to make up the largest pool of students in this year’s cohort. The U.S. and India are the next two most common countries of origin.
The college may already seem like a familiar place to some members of the new class: At least two incoming students have siblings who matriculated at Yale-NUS in previous years.
“Even before applying, I was able to see the college through my sister’s eyes,” said Boden Franklin YNUS ’21, whose sister Kei was a member of the class of 2017, in a statement provided by the Yale-NUS Office of Public Affairs. “She returned with stories of her numerous experiences that introduced her to new ways of thinking, living and interacting.”
Severin added that applicants in general have developed a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the college over the past few years.
“We have noticed an increase in the number of students who have heard about Yale-NUS from their seniors, read about us on the Yale-NUS website and follow us on social media,” she said.
On arriving to campus earlier this month, the 250-strong Yale-NUS class of 2021 raised the school’s total student population to 828. This expansion moves Yale-NUS closer to its intended size. According to the Yale-NUS Office of Public Affairs, the college ultimately expects to have a student population of 1,000 undergraduates, which is less than one-fifth of the undergraduate population of its New Haven-based partner.
Ishaan Srivastava | firstname.lastname@example.org | @ishaansriv