Yale College applications fall just short of record

Tyler Foggatt

February 4, 2015

Yale received 30,227 applications for the class of 2019 — the second-highest number of applications ever submitted to the college.

Applications to Yale College exceeded the 30,000 mark for the first time last year, when the University received a record-high 30,922 applications to the class of 2018. Though the Office of Undergraduate Admissions received 695 fewer applications this year, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said he does not place much weight in year-to-year fluctuations in application numbers.

“Year-to-year fluctuations are less important than long term trends,” Quinlan said. “The long term trend is still that more and more students are applying to Yale College.”

This year’s figure of 30,227 represents a 55 percent increase from the 19,448 applications the University received for the class of 2009 a decade ago.

The Admissions Office expected a relatively flat year in application growth after last year’s record-high figure, and plans to admit approximately the same number of students, Quinlan said.

“I think we’ll probably admit about the same number of applicants as we did last year, which means the admittance rate will probably stay relatively stable,” Quinlan said.

Among other Ivy League schools, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Columbia University each reported all-time high application totals this year. UPenn’s application count climbed to 37,264 this year, while Princeton and Columbia received 27,259 and 36,223 applications respectively. Both Dartmouth and Brown saw slight increases in application numbers as well, with Brown also reporting its second-largest pool in school history. Harvard and Cornell have not yet released their application numbers for the class of 2019.

Quinlan attributed rising application numbers at Yale and its peer institutions to factors such as the accessibility of the Common Application and increased global mobility of highly qualified students seeking higher education.

Carter Guensler, a high school senior from Atlanta who applied regular decision to Yale, said the Common Application has simplified and streamlined the college application process, allowing students to apply to several schools very easily.

“In my opinion, the Common App definitely makes it easier to apply to a wider range of schools,” Guensler said. “My dad teaches at Georgia Tech, and upon switching to the Common App, the influx of applications there was incredible. In addition, schools get a wider range of applicants, adding to the diversity, but also lowering the acceptance rates.”

The University has already admitted 753 of its 4,693 early applicants to the class of 2019, registering a 16 percent early acceptance rate — a slight boost from last year.

In December, Quinlan attributed that boost, in part, to a higher degree of diversity in the early applicant pool, a trend he said he said was also reflected in the regular decision pool.

He added that for the first time in several years, international application growth outpaced domestic application growth.

Brian Taylor, director of Ivy Coach, a New York-based college consulting firm, said rising application numbers seen across the Ivy League are a result of marketing practices directed at students who are unlikely to be competitive applicants.

“Highly selective colleges, including the Ivy League colleges, recruit students who aren’t qualified to gain admission to these schools through marketing brochures,” Taylor said. “And they do so only so they can have a lot of applications, and ultimately a lower admission rate.”

Quinlan denied making use of this tactic, saying that Yale focuses on targeting the most competitive potential applicants.

Director of Outreach and Recruitment Mark Dunn ’07 echoed this statement, noting that the Admissions Office has made strong efforts to market to high-achieving, low-income students by advertising Yale’s affordability.

He added that the office has begun using a geo-tagging service to identify potential applicants living in low-income census tracts, who may not know about Yale’s need-based financial aid awards. By targeting these areas, Quinlan said, the Admissions Office is able to provide high-achieving, low-income students with comprehensive information about the University’s financial aid policies, as well as outline how certain students are eligible for getting their Yale application fee waived.

“This past year we increased the number of students receiving these mailings and the number of pieces they received — from two postcards to two postcards and a letter written by a current student receiving a very generous financial aid package,” Dunn said. “We saw that applications from those census tracts grew at three times the overall late last year compared to the previous year, and this year they grew more than 10 percent more.”

Yale will release its admission decisions March 31.