Category Archives: Wait Lists

Regular Admissions Trends for the Class of 2021

It was another exciting year in regular decision college admissions! As a follow-up to our previous blog on Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2021, here’s an in-depth review of this year’s regular decision trends. To assist applicants who will be applying this fall, our analysis will conclude with a helpful list of tips for crafting your “best-fit” college list.

Rising Applicant Numbers, Lower Acceptance Rates

This year, regular decision acceptance rates tended to either hold steady or drop slightly. As in past years, highly sought-after private and public universities continue to receive more and more applications, offer lower admit rates, and fill more of their freshman class through early admissions.

Many schools had a record-breaking year of applications, including Brown, Georgetown, Northwestern, Princeton, UVA, and Washington University in St. Louis. WashU has seen a 4% increase in applicants since last year and a 28% rise since 2008.

Many of the country’s most selective institutions (with overall admit rates already under 15%) became even more competitive over the past three years. For example, Duke dropped from 11% to 9%, Northwestern fell from 12.9% to 9%, Swarthmore declined from 16.8% to 10.2%, and Williams decreased from 18.2% to 14.6%. Stanford has the lowest admit rate at just 4.6%.

This year, Brown, Cornell, Duke, Princeton, Stanford, and UPenn all reported record-low admit rates. Over the past ten years, Swarthmore has experienced a 59% increase in applications and only a 7% increase in acceptances, which has led to their declining acceptance rates. Michael Mills, Associate Provost for Northwestern University enrollment, said the highly-selective process of applying to elite colleges and universities can cause stressed-out high school students to send out more applications. Increased applications, in turn, make admissions even more selective, further feeding the cycle.

According to Richard Shaw, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Stanford University, these ultra-low admit rates are the product of several factors, including top students applying to many more schools, and higher demand across several demographics (including international applicants). Beyond the simple fact that high school graduation rates have been steadily increasing, U.S. News also attributes higher applicant numbers to the Common Application and other online admissions processes, which most schools have adopted. Universities also use innovative ways to market themselves to prospective applicants, especially through social media.

Early vs. Regular Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2019 through 2021

College Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019
Amherst College (ED) n/a n/a 12.2% 39.6% 12.4% 35.6%
Bowdoin College (ED I) n/a 25% 11.6% 33.7% n/a 31%
Brown University (ED) 6.8% 21.9% 7.6% 22% 7.2% 20.3%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) 8% 31% 7% n/a 9% 27%
Columbia University (ED) Only releases overall acceptance rates, not early and regular admissions rate data.
Cornell University (ED) 10.8% 25.6% 12.5% 27.4% 13.7% 26.2%
Dartmouth College (ED) 8.5% 27.8% 8.9% 26% 8.8% 26%
Duke University (ED) 7.3% 24.5% 8.7% 23.5% 9.4% 26%
Georgetown University (REA) 17.4% 11.9% n/a 13% n/a 13%
Harvard University (SCEA) 3.4% 14.7% 3.4% 14.8% 3.2% 16.5%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 10.3% 30.5% 10.1% 30.3% 11% 28.9%
MIT (EA) 6.6% 7.8% 7.4% 8.4% 7.1% 9.6%
Middlebury College (ED I) 16.7% 51% 12.7% 53.1% 14.7% 45.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 7.2% 26% 8.4% 35% 10.8% 36.2%
Pomona College (ED) 6.8% 21% n/a 19.4% n/a 19%
Princeton University (SCEA) 4.3% 15.4% 4.4% 18.5% 4.9% 19.9%
Rice University (ED) n/a 21% 15% 23% 15.6% 20.4%
Stanford University (SCEA) n/a** n/a** 3.6% 9.5% 3.9% 10.2%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 15.7% 24.4% 13.8% 30.3% 16.2% 29.8%
University of Chicago (EA) Only releases overall acceptance rates, not early and regular admissions rate data.
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 6.8% 22% 7% 23.2% 7.5% 24%
University of Virginia (EA) 24.6% 29% 28.8% 28.9% 26.6% 30.2%
Vanderbilt University (ED) 8.6% 23.6% 8.8% 23.6% 9.5% 22.5%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) Only releases overall acceptance rate, not give early and regular admissions rate data.
Williams College (ED) 12.7% 35% 15% 42% 14.5% 41%
Yale University (SCEA) 5% 17.1% 4.4% 17% 4.7% 16%

*Regular admission acceptance rate calculations do not include early admission deferral numbers.

** In a break from tradition, Stanford did not release early admissions statistics.

Overall Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2018 through 2021

College  Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2021 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2018
Amherst College (ED) n/a 13.7% 13.7% 13%
Bowdoin College (ED I) 13.4% 14.3% 14.9% 14.9%
Brown University (ED) 8.3% 9% 8.5% 8.6%
California Institute of Technology (EA) n/a 7.9% 9% 9%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) 10.4% 9.4% 11% 10%
Columbia University (ED) 5.8% 6% 6.1% 6.94%
Cornell University (ED) 12.5% 14% 14.9% 14%
Dartmouth College (ED) 10.4% 10.5% 10.3% 11.5%
Duke University (ED) 9% 10.4% 11% 11%
Georgetown University (REA) 15.4% 16.4% 16.4% 16.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 5.2% 5.2% 5.3% 5.9%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 11.8% 11.5% 12.4% 15%
Lehigh University (ED) 24.7% 26.3% 30% 34%
MIT (EA) 7.1% 7.8% 8% 7.7%
Middlebury College (ED I) 19.7% 16% 17% 17.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 9% 10.7% 13.1% 12.9%
Pomona College (ED) 8.2% 9.1% 10.3% 12.2%
Princeton University (SCEA) 6.1% 6.46% 6.99% 7.28%
Rice University (ED) n/a 15% 16% 14.1%
Stanford University (SCEA) 4.6% 4.7% 5.05% 5.07%
Swarthmore College (ED) 10.2% 12.5% 12.2% 16.8%
UC – Berkeley (EA) n/a 14.8% 17% 17%
University of Chicago (EA) n/a** 7.6% 7.8% 8.4%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 18.4% 18.3% 19.7% 20.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 9.15% 9.4% 9.9% 9.9%
University of Virginia (EA) 27% 29.9% 28.5% 28.9%
USC (No early program) 16% 16.5% 17.5% 17.8%
Vanderbilt University (ED) 10.3% 10.5% n/a 12%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) 16% 16.2% 16.7% 17.1%
Williams College (ED) 14.6% 17.3% 16.8% 18.2%
Yale University (SCEA) 6.9% 6.3% 6.5% 6.3%

**In a break from tradition, the University of Chicago did not release this year’s applicant numbers or acceptance rates.

Larger Percentages of Freshman Classes Filled with Early Applicants

Some schools continue to admit large portions of the freshman class through early admissions, making the regular admissions cycle even more competitive. More students tend to apply through regular decision, so they are competing for fewer remaining positions in the class.

As a reminder, early decision is binding; universities are guaranteed the applicants’ attendance, as compared with early action, which is non-binding and allows students until May 1 to decide. As a result, colleges with early decision programs tend to admit a higher percentage of early applicants, who have demonstrated such strong interest, and their binding commitment helps increase admissions yield for the incoming class.

This year, schools that admitted 40% to 50% of their incoming class through their early decision program include Dartmouth, WilliamsDukeUniversity of PennsylvaniaNorthwestern, and Middlebury College.

Expanding Enrollment

Some schools are planning to accommodate increased applications by expanding enrollment. Lehigh, PrincetonStanfordUVAWashington University in St. Louis, and Yale all have strategic plans to increase incoming class size over several years.

Yale has admitted its largest incoming freshman class in school history (15% larger than recent classes), as the new residential colleges of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin are scheduled to open in the fall of 2017. Dean of Yale College, Jonathan Holloway, said one of the administration’s top priorities is preparing for the larger student body. Over the next four years, Yale plans to increase undergraduate enrollment from 5,400 to 6,200 students. “This expansion touches on every aspect of learning, including teaching, facilities, and financial aid.”

Lehigh implemented The Path to Prominence plan to expand and upgrade the campus, in order to accommodate an increase of the freshman class by 1,000 students over the next seven years. The new College of Health and construction of new dorms are part of this plan.

Stanford University has applied for county permits to accommodate campus expansion for class size growth of 100 more students per year, until the year 2035. In the fall of 2015, 6,994 undergraduates were enrolled at Stanford, and by 2035, this number is projected to increase to 8,785 undergraduates, which is 25% growth over 20 years.

Increasing Diversity

Increasing the diversity of incoming classes has become a top priority for the admissions departments at many schools. This includes international applicants, students from varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and first-generation college students. Schools are seeking top-quality students from diverse backgrounds through a variety of programs, including QuestBridge, the KIPP Foundation, and A Better Chance.

Many schools are committed to increasing diversity and the makeup of their admitted applicant pool demonstrates this goal. Schools with high percentages of students of color in the admitted class include Brown (47%), Cornell (52.5%), Dartmouth (51%), Princeton (53.4%), and Williams (50%).

Some schools have also made international diversity a priority as well. This year, Dartmouth accepted 38% more students from foreign countries, the largest international cohort in the school’s history. About half of the accepted international students will be offered need-based financial aid.

Delaying Admission

More and more schools are offering delayed admission to incoming freshmen, offering spring acceptances or asking the students to begin the following fall.

Middlebury anticipates that about 100 students will matriculate in February 2018 as members of the Class of 2021. This year, Cornell admitted 60 students to the First-Year Spring Admission (FYSA) program, which was established in 2015 to increase access to a Cornell education. Hamilton aims to enroll about 40 first-year students in their spring admission program each year. This allows Hamilton to offer admission to additional strong applicants, while also filling spots created by current students who are studying abroad during the spring semester.

Princeton offers a different kind of option for students accepted for fall entry. The Bridge Year Program “allows incoming first-year students to spend a tuition-free year engaging in international service work abroad in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia or Senegal.” This year, up to 35 incoming freshman are expected to participate.

 Withdrawn Acceptances

This year, there have been several instances of highly selective schools rescinding acceptances due to lower grades or offensive behavior. One widely publicized incident involved 10 students whose Harvard acceptances were revoked after it was discovered that the individuals had participated in the posting of offensive memes to social media.

Withdrawn acceptances are still the exception and not the norm, but students should be aware of the conditions that have caused revoked admissions and how to avoid this situation. For more information, see our blog, Keeping Your College Acceptance.

Tips for Future Applicants

Demonstrate interest. In a competitive admissions climate increasingly concerned with yield, demonstrating interest is more important than ever. Therefore, apply to 10-12 colleges (a manageable number) so that you can visit all of the schools in which you are interested. When you visit, register with the admissions reception desk. Many schools track visits, and see this as the strongest possible way to demonstrate interest.  If you are applying early admissions, visit the college by November 15. If you are applying regular admissions visit in the fall of your senior year, or by February 15 at the latest.

Highlight your heritage. Many universities have made increasing the diversity of incoming classes a top admissions priority. If you identify with an under-represented minority, participate in diversity days hosted by the college, if appropriate.

Think carefully about your college list. When crafting your college list, make sure that you would be happy to attend any school on your list. Do not apply to a university that is not a good fit, or about which you have reservations. Be very realistic about your chances and have grounded expectations. Your college list should have a healthy distribution of reach, target, and safe schools.

Be strategic with early admissions. While early acceptance rates tend to be higher than regular acceptance rates, early admission has become harder to predict. Think carefully and strategically about your early admissions choice.

The college admissions process can be overwhelming, and it may feel difficult to know where to start. At Collegiate Gateway, we are eager to share our expertise and guide you on the path to your “best fit” college. Please feel free to contact us! As always, we’re happy to help!

Updated: College Admissions Trends, 2013 Edition

For students and parents beginning the long journey that is the college admissions process, information is key. The more you know about recent trends, realities and expectations, the better prepared you are to tackle challenges and succeed in gaining admissions to the colleges of your choice. With that in mind, Collegiate Gateway has prepared a brief overview of the major trends in admissions, so that you can begin to prepare for the process ahead.

 

More Applications Mean More Competition.

The number of high school graduates in the U.S. steadily increased for 15 years before peaking at 3.4 million graduates in 2010-11. Colleges have continued to receive record numbers of applications every year. The Common App is now accepted at over 500 schools, including the vast majority of selective schools, and the ease of the shared online application has resulted in students applying to greater numbers of colleges than ever before. In addition, colleges are using outreach enrollment recruitment strategies to attract a more diverse applicant pool, including international students. According to the Department of Education data, the average number of applications per institution increased 60 percent between 2002 and 2011.

Yet, capacity at colleges has remained fairly constant. As a result, acceptance rates have steadily declined. This is especially true among the most selective, “top tier” institutions. This year, every university in the Ivy League reported decreased acceptance rates from last year, the lowest being 5.79% at Harvard. The only exception was Dartmouth, with an admit rate that inched up from 9.8% last year to 10.05%. And the rates are just as low, and in some cases, even lower, outside the Ivies. The most competitive this year was Stanford, which accepted only 5.69% of its more than 38,800 applicants. The University of Chicago accepted 8.8% of its record 30,369 applications, and MIT admitted just 8.2% of a record-high 18,989 applicants – a new low acceptance rate for the university.

There are other reasons for the every-heightening selectivity. Colleges are themselves increasingly concerned about their rankings, and may use strategies to try to keep their acceptance rates low, such as sending mass mailing to attract additional applicants or selecting only those students who are likely to enroll. These, along with other factors, combine to make the college admissions process an increasingly complex, often unpredictable process.

 

The Ever-Expanding Waitlist.  

Increased applications, however, don’t just mean more rejections. They also mean a lot more students are winding up in College Admissions Purgatory, namely, on the waitlist. While the waitlist itself has been around for decades, its function has evolved in recent years, as colleges have had difficulty predicting how many of their accepted students will actually enroll. Both a necessity, as well as a sort of consolation prize for highly qualified (but ultimately not qualified enough) applicants, the waitlist has expanded tremendously. The prevalence of waitlist use increased from 32 percent in 2002 to 44.7 percent in 2011. During the Fall 2011 admission cycle, institutions reported placing an average of nine percent of all applicants on the waitlist, and on average, 31 percent of these students were accepted. As expected, the waitlist acceptance rate has always been much lower at the most selective institutions. In 2011, the most selective colleges and universities accepted 17 percent of students on the waitlist. A few years ago, more Duke applicants were waitlisted than admitted!

 

Admitted, But Not For the Fall.

A relatively new phenomenon among colleges (dating back to 2001 when USC first started the trend) is offering students admission, but not until the spring semester of their freshman year. While not a universal practice, the list now includes Skidmore College, Hamilton College, Brandeis University, Northeastern University, and Middlebury College. Each has its own unique way of going about it: some do not let students enroll until the spring; while others enroll them right away, but place them in a fall semester program abroad, like Colby, or an alternative class schedule program like University of Maryland. But the reason for this practice is the same: between freshman attrition and junior study abroad, campus populations decline in the second half of each year. Admitting more students for later in the year allows colleges to fill the dorm beds, and generate more tuition revenue.

 

The Big Picture: “Holistic” Admissions.

The current state of intense competition among college applicants has influenced not only admissions outcomes, but also the admissions process – that is, the way colleges evaluate prospective students. According to NACAC’s most recent State of College Admission report, establishing “fit” is more important than ever before, especially at private, small, and highly selective institutions. This has led to what many admissions officers refer to as a “holistic,” rather than “by the numbers,” evaluation process. In each of the last 10 years, private colleges assigned greater importance than public colleges to many factors other than grades and test scores, including the essay or writing sample, the interview, the counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and the applicant’s demonstrated interest. Colleges are increasingly looking for students who demonstrate qualities such as character, creativity, leadership, a sense of humor, and moral fiber, which these supplemental materials stand to reveal.

 

The Early Birds Get the Worm, Sometimes.

As mentioned above, application numbers are up, and early action/decision applications are no exception. In 2013, early admission programs continued to record double-digit increases in applicants. Boston University, for example, saw a 41 percent increase in early applicants, while Bates College rose 30 percent and Cornell rose 16.5 percent. The reason for this is fairly straightforward: colleges, in order to better predict and control matriculation rates, admit large percentages of each incoming class from their early application pool; Columbia and Penn, for example, filled 49.5% and 48.2% this year through Early Decision. This, in turn, results in substantially higher acceptance rates among early applicants, for example 13.4% Single Choice Early Action versus 5.2% Regular Decision at Yale.

 

The most important thing for students, however, is to remain focused and calm. While these statistics may seem daunting, with the right planning and guidance early on, you can – and will – end up at a college of your choice, where you can be happy, challenged and successful. For more information and guidance, contact Collegiate Gateway LLC at www.collegiategateway.com.

Colleges Increase Use of Wait Lists

More colleges are using Wait Lists than in previous years, due to the increased number of applications as well as growing unpredictability about students’ decisions of which college to attend. Many colleges vary their usage of Wait Lists from year to year, based on their strategy of how many students to accept, as well as the “yield,” or the percentage of admitted students who choose to attend.

For instance, Princeton decided not to offer acceptance to any of its 1472 Wait-Listed students in 2012.  In the past four years, Princeton has accepted between 19 and 159 students from the Wait List. Cornell University placed almost 10,000 students on a Wait List from 2009-2011, and didn’t accept one student. Lee Melvin, Cornell’s Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment said that wait-listing is a “valuable enrollment management tool and should be strategically designed to assure we can achieve the institutional enrollment goal.”

According to NACAC’s 2011 State of College Admission report, 48% of institutions used a wait list for fall 2010, up from 39% the previous year. “Colleges, despite the embarrassment of riches in the number of applications, continue to find it more difficult to determine who’s actually attending,” says David Hawkins, NACAC’s director of public policy and research. The wait list has become a way for colleges to offset the uncertainty of predicting yield.

It is important for applicants on a wait list to be realistic about their chances. Although being placed on a wait list is more hopeful than being denied from a school, only 28% of wait listed students on average in 2010 were admitted, and the most selective colleges only admit 11% of students off the wait list on average. In 2010, Duke offered 3,382 students a place on their wait list, but only 60 applicants were ultimately admitted from that list. Of the 996 students who Yale wait-listed last year, only 103 of them were accepted. This year, Yale’s wait list holds 1,001 hopeful applicants and Princeton’s holds 1,472.

The chart below presents a sampling of colleges’ Wait List stats for the Class of 2014 (based on the most recently published data from US News & World Report).  Most colleges have not yet released statistics from 2012, though Harvard reports admitting 46 students from its wait list.

College/University

Waitlist (Y/N)

# Applicants placed on WL

# Applicants accepting WL placement

# Students accepted from WL

% Students accepted from WL

Brown University

Y

1,550

600

32

2.1%

Cornell University

Y

2,551

1,483

0

0%

Dartmouth College

Y

1,745

1,027

25

1.4%

Emory University

Y

2,515

1,091

62

2.5%

Georgetown University

Y

1,784

1,035

45

2.5%

New York University

Y

2,627

1,513

119

4.5%

Northwestern University

Y

3,204

1,476

26

.8%

Skidmore College

Y

1,456

1,113

1

0%

University of Pennsylvania

Y

1,451

1,002

164

11.3%

University of Virginia

Y

3,744

2,112

301

8%

Vanderbilt University

Y

5,023

1,733

323

6.4%

Yale University

Y

932

575

98

10.5%

 

College/University

Waitlist (Y/N)

# Applicants placed on WL

# Applicants accepting WL placement

# Students accepted from WL

% Students accepted from WL

Brown University

Y

1,550

600

32

2.1%

Columbia University

Y

NR

NR

NR

NR

Cornell University

Y

2,551

1,483

0

0%

Dartmouth College

Y

1,745

1,027

25

1.4%

Duke University

Y

NR

NR

NR

NR

Emory University

Y

2,515

1,091

62

2.5%

Georgetown University

Y

1,784

1,035

45

2.5%

Harvard University

Y

NR

NR

NR

NR

New York University

Y

2,627

1,513

119

4.5%

Northwestern University

Y

3,204

1,476

26

.8%

Princeton University

Y

NR

 NR

NR

NR

Skidmore College

Y

1,456

1,113

1

0%

Tufts University

Y

NR

NR

NR

NR

University of Pennsylvania

Y

1,451

1,002

164

11.3%

University of Southern California

N

0

0

0

N/A

University of Virginia

Y

3,744

2,112

301

8%

Vanderbilt University

Y

5,023

1,733

323

6.4%

Washington University at St. Louis

Y

NR

NR

NR

NR

Yale University

Y

932

575

98

10.5%

More Applications Causes Admissions Challenges

The College Admissions Report 2011 of NACAC reveals the following trends.  For the past decade, there have been increases in the number of high school graduates, the number of students applying to colleges and the number of students enrolled in higher education. Women have enrolled in college at a higher rate, causing some colleges to have differential rates of admission for females and males to try to narrow the gender gap.  Applications have increased, and as a result, selectivity has increased and yield (the percent of accepted students who choose to attend) has decreased. With the increasing unpredictability of admissions, colleges are relying more on Early Decision to fill up to half the incoming class, and making more use of Wait Lists to offset the uncertainty of yield.

High School Graduation and College Enrollment

  • The number of high school graduates has been steadily increasing for over a decade;
  • The percentage of high school graduates who go to college has increased since the 1970s, and reached a new peak of 70% in 2009;
  • The total number of students enrolled in higher ed has increased steadily over the past 35 years, with 20.4 million students enrolled in 2009; and is projected to increase an additional 13% by 2020; Most of the enrollment increases have been in public institutions.
  • Rates of enrollment in college are directly correlated with family income;
  • Women have enrolled in college at a higher rate than men since the 1980s, with a gap of 8 percentage points in 2009;

Applications to College

  • Students are submitting more applications to college;
  • 25% of fall 2010 freshmen applied to 7 or more colleges;
  • Average yield among four-year colleges for Class of 2010 was 41%, e.g. less than half of all students admitted to an institution accepted.
  • Average yield has declined because students are applying to more institutions, making it more difficult for colleges to predict yield and obtain target enrollment numbers.
  • Gender trends:  Females comprise 56% of applicants of four-year colleges for fall 2010 admission, 56% of accepted students and 56% of enrolled students. Average acceptance rates for male and female applicants were nearly the same, at 64.9% vs. 65.2%.

NOTE:  The pattern among individual institutions varies greatly, with some schools accepting a higher percentage of male than female applicants to try to achieve gender equality in numbers.

Admission Strategies

  • Early Decision: 38% of colleges report increases in # of ED applicants; 12% of all applicants for fall 2010 admission to ED colleges were received through ED; 38% of colleges saw an increase in ED applications; Colleges with ED policies have a higher acceptance rate for ED (57% vs. 50% for Regular);
  • Early Action: 72% of colleges saw an increase in EA applications; Colleges with EA report a nearly identical acceptance rates for EA than Overall (66% vs. 67%);
  • Wait Lists: % of institutions that used WLs increased from 39% (fall 2009) to 48% (fall 2010). On average, only 11% of wait-listed students were ultimately admitted from the group of most selective colleges.