Early Decision data is filtering in across the Ivy League for the Class of 2017. So which schools have more applicants than last year and which schools have fewer, you ask? Well, let’s dig in! At Brown University, the percentage of Early Decision applicants increased by a whopping 1% this year as compared to last year. So they were pretty even on the year. The University of Pennsylvania had a 5.6% increase in Early Decision applications — setting a record for the university in Philadelphia. Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University have Early Action programs that are non-binding (unlike Early Decision), and their data isn’t in just yet. Neither is the Early Decision data for Cornell University or Columbia University.
And what about Dartmouth? Well, their Early Decision data isn’t as good this year as compared to the past few years. To give you some data for comparison, for the Class of 2012, 1,428 students applied. For the Class of 2013, 1,571 students submitted Early Decision applications. For the Class of 2014, 1,600 applications were received. 2015? 1,754. 2016? 1,800. But now Dartmouth has fallen from its high of 1,800 to 1,525. This thus marks the smallest Early Decision applicant pool for Dartmouth in a few years.
Why do you think Penn saw an increase in Early Decision applications? And why did Dartmouth see a decrease? Does that mean that it will be easier to get into Dartmouth this year as compared to last year? Absolutely not! Just because fewer applicants apply, that doesn’t mean the applicant pool is weaker. ‘C’ students who apply don’t make an applicant pool stronger by any means. The sheer number of applications is not the mark of a competitive applicant pool (unless the applicant pool falls to ridiculous lows). Remember, colleges — even highly selective ones — have a tendency to recruit students who they know can’t get in just to boost their applicant pool. So this does indeed speak to a bad marketing year for the Dartmouth admissions office (at least in the Early round), but it doesn’t necessarily speak to a weaker Early applicant pool. That’s an important distinction.