Yale Daily News

Between November and March, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions narrowed a 50,015 applicant admissions pool to 2,234 students who received a spot in the class of 2026.

Admissions staff had prepared to assess a group similar in size to the 2020-21 application cycle’s then-record-breaking pool of 46,905 applicants. They hired more staff, spent more time reading applications and held more committee meetings, and ultimately were able to meet the tide of over 50,000 applications.

“Our thoughtful whole-person review process remained the same,” Director of Undergraduate Admissions Margit Dahl wrote in an email to the News. “Admissions officers reviewed applications one at a time, and admissions decisions were made by admissions committees composed of admissions officers, Yale College deans, and faculty who regularly teach undergraduates.”

Still, Dahl said it took a “monumental effort” to evaluate all of the applications. 

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan agreed, but he added that his office was better prepared for this cycle than the last one. The staff increase included hiring part-time application readers and expanding the international readership team. 

Nevertheless, Quinlan said the increase from the class of 2025’s application cycle was surprising. In his 20 years of admissions experience, Quinlan said, the number of applications Yale receives for early action tends to predict how large the overall application pool will be. This cycle, however, bucked that trend. Despite a lull in early applications, the 2021-22 application cycle featured the largest-ever applicant pool in Yale history.

However, Quinlan noted that the loosening of public health restrictions helped maintain motivation among the admissions staff. The office convened three committee meetings per day; two were held in person, while one took place online. Before the pandemic, only two committee meetings met each day. 

Dahl attributed their successful work to the attitude and teamwork of the admissions staff.

“What continues to amaze me is how enthusiastic every admissions officer is about particular applicants in their own admissions territory,” Dahl said. “I think that is what keeps us motivated in the face of so many applications. In the end, it is all about the individual student and their fit with Yale.”

In the wake of last year’s record-breaking admissions season, Quinlan and Mark Dunn, the admissions office’s director of outreach and communications, attributed the uptick to pandemic factors such as test-optional admissions and virtual outreach — both of which have continued to some extent this year. Dunn said in September that he and the office staff were “very excited” to be able to continue the virtual outreach opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic had created.

“It’s always really triumphant to get through the final days of committee,” Quinlan said. “It’s always triumphant to send out decisions and get through 50,000 applications.”

Admitted students have until May 2 to accept their offer of admission.

Jordan Fitzgerald serves as a University editor for the News. She previously edited for WKND and wrote about admissions, financial aid & alumni. She is a senior in Trumbull College majoring in American history.