Top Schools With Big Drops in Admit Rates for the Class of 2021

2021 Admission Rates, Drop in Admission Rates, 2021 Drop in Admit Rate

Northwestern University became much more competitive this past admissions cycle (photo credit: Amerique).

They say that every year it gets tougher and tougher to get into a highly selective college. But that simply isn’t the case. Sure, admission rates tend to drop at our nation’s most elite universities each year but this fact alone doesn’t mean it’s getting more difficult to get in. After all, highly selective colleges get better and better — each and every year — at getting students to apply. This includes even unqualified students. An abundance of students with ‘C’ grades and 1200 SAT scores in the Columbia applicant pool doesn’t make it more difficult in the least for an ‘A’ student with a 1540 SAT to get into Columbia. Of course, Columbia doesn’t necessarily have an abundance of ‘C’ students applying. We just chose an institution at random and went to the extreme with our example, but we trust our readers get the point. So, now that our readers firmly understand that admission rates do not in and of themselves reflect the competitiveness of admission to a given institution, let’s examine which of our nation’s top schools saw some of the biggest drops in admit rates for the Class of 2021.

Top Schools With Big Drops in Admit Rates for the Class of 2021

While there are certainly many highly selective colleges that saw significant admit rate drops for the Class of 2021, here are some notable ones: At Tulane University, 35,605 students applied for admission to the Class of 2021. The acceptance rate for the Class of 2021 stood at 21%, while the admit rate just a year before stood at 26%. Interestingly, there was a 38% increase in international applicants from year-to-year. At Williams College, 8,593 students applied. Of these applicants, 1,253 earned admission to the Williams Class of 2021 — marking an admission rate of under 15%. Williams had an 18% admit rate for the Class of 2020. At Colby College, 1,750 students earned admission out of an applicant pool of 11,190 students. Applications were up 14% and the admission rate fell from 19% for the Class of 2020 to 16% for the Class of 2021.

At New York University, applications were up 6% and the admission rate dropped from 32% for the Class of 2020 to 28% for the Class of 2021. It marked the tenth straight year of record applications. And you bet NYU led with that bit in their press release. Heck, they titled their press release with the assertion. At Emory University, the admission rate fell from 25% to 22% in light of the 19% increase in applications from year-to-year.  At Georgia Tech, applications rose by a margin of 3% — leading to an admit rate drop from 26% for the Class of 2020 to 23% for the Class of 2021. At Vassar College, applications rose 6% and the admit rate dropped from 27% for the Class of 2020 to a little under 24% for the Class of 2021. Of note, among these admits, just under 61% were female.

Northwestern’s Competitiveness Increased for the Class of 2021

But, as we’ve articulated above and on so many occasions over the years on the pages of our college admissions blog and in the press, a university’s admission rate drop alone does not necessarily convey that the institution became more competitive. In fact, the data suggests that the admission statistics for Northwestern University were comparable for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. For the Class of 2020, the admit rate stood at around 10%, while for the Class of 2021 it stood at 9.3%. 35,100 students applied to be members of the Class of 2020 and 37,259 students applied to be members of the Class of 2021. The data alone suggests that there were modest gains this past year for Northwestern’s admissions office. We beg to differ. Sometimes gut instinct should be measured along with data. Even our hero Billy Beane, made famous for “Moneyball” would likely agree. We wholeheartedly believe that the school that ramped up its competitiveness more so than any other school this past admissions cycle was…Northwestern University. We said as much in March.

What do our readers think about these top schools with big drops in admit rates for the Class of 2021? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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