A pandemic-fueled surge in applications has resulted in record acceptance rates this year for elite colleges across the country, including most of the Ivy League.
Harvard University admitted 1,968 applicants, or 3.4% of the 57,435 people who applied. The previous lowest acceptance rate was 4.6% two years ago. Applications jumped 43% from last year.
Yale University accepted 4.6% of the 46,905 people who applied. The applicant pool increased 33% from last year, when the school accepted 6.6% of applicants.
Columbia University in New York was the second hardest school to enter among the Ivies. Of the 60,551 students who applied, only 3.7% were accepted, up from 6.3% last year.
The eight schools making up the Ivy League and several other highly selective colleges informed applicants on Tuesday whether or not they had secured a spot for next fall’s freshman class. Notices were sent out a week later than in previous years to give admissions officers time to check out the flood of requests.
Hundreds of other colleges, including most elite schools, stopped requiring a standardized ACT or SAT test score as part of the admissions process this year because it was difficult to pass exams in safely during the pandemic. The voluntary testing policy has boosted applications, as the number of open seats declined when a disproportionate number of students postponed admission due to the pandemic.
“Ten percent of the class entering this fall were admitted a year ago and have decided to take a gap year,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, where an increase of 25 % of applications drove the acceptance rate to a record high. low 5.8% compared to 8.1% last year. “It left less space than usual.”
Over 100,000 students applied to New York University and the school accepted 12.8% – a record high. Of those accepted, 20% are the first in their family to go to college, 20% are low-income and 29% come from traditionally under-represented groups, the school said.
In Dartmouth, where the acceptance rate fell to 6.2% from 9.2% last year, 48% of accepted students identify as black, native or other people of color, the school said, while 17% are the first in their family to attend university.
“It’s safe to say this is the most diverse accepted class in Dartmouth’s long history,” said Lee Coffin, vice-provost for enrollments and dean of admissions and financial aid.
Demand was high at branded schools, but was stable or declining at many lesser-known institutions. The rich are getting richer and many more schools are struggling, said Bill Conley, founder and co-director of Enrollment Intelligence Now, an enrollment management consulting firm.
“I think we are going to continue to see a severe separation of the elite from the sub-elite and everyone else,” he said.
At the University of Pennsylvania, the acceptance rate fell to 5.7% from 9% last year.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology accepted 4% of applicants, down from 7.3% last year, while Princeton fell to 4% from 5.6% last year.
Acceptance rates may continue to change as schools turn to their waiting lists to complete their classes, so numbers are not considered final until the start of the school year. Over the past year, many selective schools have unusually widened their waiting lists because so many students have decided to take a year off.
“It was a unicorn year, the waiting lists were overused,” Hafeez Lakhani, New York University counselor and president of Lakhani Coaching, said of the highly selective schools. “My best guess is that this year will be the opposite.”
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