Courtesy of Lukas Flippo
The admissions cycle for the class of 2025 was unlike any Yale had seen before, with a test optional policy and an exceptionally large applicant pool.
Early in the pandemic, the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced that it would be making previously required or recommended tests — such as the SAT, ACT and SAT subject tests — optional for the upcoming admissions cycle. This was not the only difference in this year’s admissions cycle, as Yale saw a significant increase in the number of applicants in both rounds, totaling 46,905 — a 33 percent increase from last year’s 35,220 applications. The class of 2025 established a 4.62 percent acceptance rate across early and regular admissions.
“We don’t measure success by the number of applications we deny,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News. “In everything that we do strategically, quality and diversity is more important than quantity. Quantity is just something you have to deal with when you clearly have such a huge increase in applications.”
Quinlan noted that the large growth in applications is in part due to the new test optional admissions process, along with outreach efforts and sentiment toward higher education. Last fall, he told the News that admissions officers received training on how to evaluate data points other than test scores on an application to determine whether an applicant would succeed at Yale.
Though the News first reported in June 2020 that the optional testing would only last for the 2020-21 admissions cycle, Yale announced on Feb. 11 that the test optional policy would apply to the 2021-22 admissions cycle as well.
“All high school seniors now have a straightforward option: submit SAT or ACT scores if you wish,” Quinlan told the News. “I know that students will have many priorities when schools eventually reopen; I believe that completing standardized tests in time for an upcoming application deadline should not be among them.”
With the pandemic also came an increased number of admitted first years originally in the class of 2024 who decided to take gap years. Around 340 students postponed their matriculation. Despite this, Director of Outreach and Communications Mark Dunn said the admissions office did not plan to reduce the number of admissions offers for the class of 2025.
The admissions office followed through, accepting 837 students from the 7,939 early action applicants, the largest number of early applicants in Yale’s history.
This significant increase in the number of applications also affected regular decision admissions, causing the decision release date to be delayed to April 6. When decision day came around, the admissions office announced that it had admitted 2,169 students from a record-high pool of 46,905 applicants.
The admissions office observed four trends in the class of 2025 application pool: an increase in international applicants, an increase in racial diversity of the domestic applicants, an increase in applications from those interested in social sciences and a larger increase in applications from women than from men.
“I think the increase in international applications and increased engagement with our virtual outreach is a positive sign that more promising students from all backgrounds see the value in our model of higher education generally, and in the Yale experience specifically,” Associate Director of Admissions and Director of International Admissions Keith Light wrote in an email to the News.
Due to the increased size of the classes of 2024 and 2025, Yale plans to reallocate resources in order to keep class sizes similar to pre-pandemic levels and ensure that the classroom experience remains “lively and engaged” despite higher enrollment numbers, according to Tamar Gendler, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences .
Anticipating a larger demand for first year and sophomore courses, Gendler explained that the University plans to add staff and resources to popular introductory courses for first years. Additionally, the University hopes to hire a few additional recent Yale PhD graduates to teach upper-level seminars, which would allow for full-time professors to teach more classes for sophomores.
“The main thing for students to know and understand is we are putting additional resources in place and we are profoundly committed to making sure the undergraduate experience next year, even in the face of additional students, feels exactly as lively and engaged as it has in years where we have our standard enrollment levels,” Gendler told the News.
First year orientation begins on Friday, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m.