Yale acceptance rate set to increase

Luke Ciancarelli

November 4, 2016

Yale’s undergraduate acceptance rate for the class of 2021 will increase in the coming admissions cycle because of the 175 additional spots in the freshman class afforded by the two new residential colleges.

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan, the Yale College acceptance rate will be higher this year, with more of the new spots being filled during regular admissions. Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges, scheduled to open in fall 2017, will bring the size of the freshman class to around 1,550 students. But while 175 spots are opening, Yale will admit between 300 and 400 more students than last year, Quinlan said, adding that the exact number will be determined by the strength of this year’s applicant pool.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to admit between 300 and 400 more students,” Quinlan said, adding that he was glad the University would be able to provide a Yale education to the largest number of students in school history.

Last year, Yale received 31,455 applications for the class of 2020, breaking the class of 2018’s record-high application figure of 30,922 and representing an increase from the 30,277 applications to the class of 2019. Using the size of last year’s application pool as a benchmark, an additional 350 acceptance letters would bring the admissions rate to around 7.38 percent, a roughly 1 percentage point jump over the previous year.

If this occurred, it would be the first time in five years that Yale’s acceptance rate has been over 7 percent.

Quinlan said that it is impossible to predict the number of applications Yale will receive until applicants have made up their minds about where they want to apply, but he added that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions did not anticipate there being a correlation between increased class size and the number of applications Yale receives. Quinlan also said the Admissions Office never goes into an admissions cycle with a predetermined target number of students it would like to accept. Instead, the number of students accepted is always a function of the nature of the applicant pool for that year, he said.

Quinlan added that this phenomenon is especially true for the number of transfer students Yale admits each year. While the new colleges could potentially open up space for more non-Yale transfers — depending on the freshman class yield rate and the number of inter-residential college transfers to the new buildings — Quinlan said the number of transfer students admitted this year will be, like that in years past, wholly determined by the strength of the applicant pool.

While the new colleges will lead to a larger class and a higher acceptance rate this year, it is unclear how Yale College’s expansion will affect how many applicants choose to apply to Yale early action or regular decision.

New Jersey high school senior David Hidalgo-Gato said that while he knew Yale was adding two new residential colleges, this information did not influence his decision to apply to Yale early. Hidalgo-Gato, however, said he thinks the new colleges would influence more students to apply overall, since many would expect Yale to admit “a few hundred people more.”

Hidalgo-Gato added that while he did not think the new colleges themselves would be a major incentivizing factor for students to apply, the addition of the new colleges sends an important message to students.

“[The new colleges] reaffirm the notion that Yale is progressive and is always looking for ways to improve the depth and breadth of the Yale experience,” Hidalgo-Gato added.

Still, there is no consensus over whether Yale will receive more applications this year because of the increased number of spots in next year’s freshman class.

Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, did not think that Yale’s expansion was “interesting enough data” to influence students’ decisions to apply early action or regular admission. Taylor said that in his experience, it was not a major topic of conversation among parents and students in the months leading up to this admissions cycle.

“It doesn’t exactly pull on the heartstrings like, say, an NCAA basketball title does for Duke,” Taylor said. “The data proves each and every year that schools that win NCAA basketball titles secure increased applicant pools the subsequent fall. There is no equivalent data that I’m aware of for schools that increase the size of their freshman classes.”

Yale’s deadline for early admissions was Nov. 1. This first round of applicants will hear back about their admissions decisions by mid-December.