Tag Archives: acceptance rates

Regular Admissions Trends for the Class of 2020

Once again, it was a wild year in college admissions. Assessing the likelihood of acceptance to highly selective private and public universities was as unpredictable as ever, and while some applicants were lucky enough to receive early admission to their top choice, many students were dealt an uncertain hand of deferrals and spots on waitlists.

As a follow-up to our previous blog on Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2020, here’s an in-depth comparison of this year’s regular decision statistics to recent college admissions cycles. 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.

Acceptance Rates

This year, regular decision acceptance tended to either hold steady or drop slightly. As in past years, highly sought-after private and public universities continue to receive 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 Bowdoin, Brown, Cornell, Princeton, NYU, Northwestern, Tufts, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Princeton’s applicant pool has doubled over the past decade.

Many of the country’s most selective institutions, with overall admit rates under 15%, became even more competitive over the past two years. For example, Johns Hopkins dropped from 15% to 11.5%, Northwestern fell from 12.9% to 10.7%, and Swarthmore declined from 16.8% to 12.5%. Stanford has the lowest admit rate at just 4.7%. This year, Barnard, Bowdoin, Duke, Harvard, Northwestern, Tufts, UC-Berkeley, and USC all reported record-low admit rates.

According to Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid at Stanford University, these ultra-low admit rates are the product of several factors: top students applying to many more schools, higher demand across many demographics (including international applicants), and college advising that encourages students to apply to their dream schools, as opposed to schools that are a good fit and offer a better chance of admission. According to U.S. News, higher applicant numbers are the result of 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.

Notre Dame has seen a 34% increase in applications over the past six years, and their overall acceptance rate has dropped from 24.3% to 18.3% over the past five years. According to Don Bishop, Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment at Notre Dame, as competitive as the Class of 2020 is, these numbers would be even more selective if the University practiced admissions strategies used by other schools seeking to improve their rankings.

“There are colleges being criticized for going out there and getting a large number of applicants that they’re going to reject. A group of schools that seemingly are recruiting students they’re going to turn down. Notre Dame has not engaged in that practice.”

Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2018 through 2020



(Note Early Admissions Plan:

ED vs EA)

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 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2020 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Acceptance Rate for Class of 2018
Amherst College (ED) 12.2% 39.6% 12.4% 35.6% 13.7% 13.7% 13%
Bowdoin College (ED I) 11.6% 33.7% n/a 31% 14.3% 14.9% 14.9%
Brown University (ED) 7.6% 22% 7.2% 20.3% 9% 8.5% 8.6%
California Institute of Technology (EA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 7.9% 9% 9%
Claremont McKenna College (ED) n/a n/a 9% 27% 9.4% 11% 10%
Columbia University (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 6% 6.1% 6.94%
Cornell University (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 14% 14.9% 14%
Dartmouth College (ED) 8.9% 26% 8.8% 26% 10.5% 10.3% 11.5%
Duke University (ED) 8.7% 23.5% 9.4% 26% 10.4% 11% 11%
Georgetown University (REA) n/a 13% n/a 13% 16.4% 16.4% 16.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 3.4% 14.8% 3.2% 16.5% 5.2% 5.3% 5.9%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 10.1% 30.3% 11% 28.9% 11.5% 12.4% 15%
Lehigh University (ED) n/a n/a n/a 44% n/a 30% 34%
MIT (EA) 7.4% 8.4% 7.1% 9.6% 7.8% 8% 7.7%
Middlebury College (ED I) 12.7% 53.1% 14.7% 45.3% 16% 17% 17.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 8.4% 35% 10.8% 36.2% 10.7% 13.1% 12.9%
Pomona College (ED) n/a n/a n/a 19% 9.1% 10.3% 12.2%
Princeton University (SCEA) 4.4% 18.5% 4.9% 19.9% 6.46% 6.99% 7.28%

Rice University


n/a n/a 15.6% 20.4% n/a 16% 14.1%
Stanford University (SCEA) 3.6% 9.5% 3.9% 10.2% 4.7% 5.05% 5.07%
Swarthmore College (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 12.5% 12.2% 16.8%

UC – Berkeley


n/a n/a n/a n/a 14.8% 17% 17%
University of Chicago (EA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 7.6% 7.8% 8.4%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 13.8% 30.3% 16.2% 29.8% 18.3% 19.7% 20.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 7% 23.2% 7.5% 24% 9.4% 9.9% 9.9%
University of Virginia (EA) 28.8% 28.9% 26.6% 30.2% 28.8% 28.5% 28.9%


(No early program)

16.5% n/a 17.5% n/a 16.5% 17.5% 17.8%
Vanderbilt University (ED) 8.8% 23.6% 9.5% 22.5% 10.5% n/a 12%
Washington Univ. in St. Louis (ED) n/a n/a n/a n/a 16.2% 16.7% 17.1%
Williams College (ED) 15% 42% 14.5% 41% 17.3% 16.8% 18.2%
Yale University (SCEA) 4.4% 17% 4.7% 16% 6.3% 6.5% 6.3%

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

Large Percentage of Freshman Class Filled with Early Applicants

Some schools continue to admit large portions of the freshman class through early admissions, making regular admissions 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 so 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 in determining admissions yield for the incoming class.

This year, schools that admitted 40% to 50% of their incoming class through their early decision program include Brown, Duke, Northwestern, Penn, Williams, and Vanderbilt.

Expanding Enrollment

Some schools are accommodating increased applications with plans to expand enrollment. Princeton, Stanford, UVA, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale all have strategic plans to increase incoming class size over several years. Princeton’s plan to expand the class size by 11% was motivated by the desire to “enhance the quality of the overall educational experience at Princeton and make more effective use of the University’s extraordinary resources.” At the same time, University President John L. Hennessy says that Stanford has plans to grow but wants to be careful that size does not diminish experience, and the school will make future growth decisions dependent upon feedback from students and professors.

Determining Yield

Many schools are struggling to predict yield, the number of admitted applicants who will decide to attend their institution, as universities increase in popularity and selectivity. This, in turn, can impact admissions rates. For example, Duke’s Dean of Admissions, Christoph Guttentag, said that one factor in this year’s low admissions rate was last year’s exceptionally high regular decision yield rate.

“Because the number of students we admitted last year resulted in over enrollment, we admitted fewer students this year on the assumption that the yield will be similar,” Guttentag said. “We have admitted 150 students fewer than last year.”

At Lehigh, the Class of 2018 hit overcapacity, and caused the university to accept fewer students in 2015. However, the Class of 2019 was still over capacity, forcing Lehigh to further recalculate yield predictions for the Class of 2020.

Similarly, MIT has also experienced increasing yield over the years, from 65% in 2011 to 73% in 2015. Stu Schmill, Dean of Admissions, only expects it to keep going up as students continue to recognize “the value and excitement of MIT.”

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. Pomona College, for example, partners with A Better Chance, Chicago Scholars, the KIPP Foundation and the Sutton Trust, as well as numerous local and regional programs, to connect with applicants from under-resourced schools. The University of Pennsylvania and Williams have similar programs.

This year, Duke began the Washington Duke Scholars, which nationally seeks to find first-generation college students who demonstrate financial need. Georgetown has a comparable program, called the Georgetown Scholarship Program.

Many schools are committed to increasing diversity and the makeup of their admitted applicant pool demonstrates this goal. At Cornell University, a record 27% of the admitted applicants self-identify as underrepresented minority students and 49% are students of color, which includes Asian-Americans and underrepresented minorities. UC-Berkeley has increased admission of Chicano/Latino students by 28.8% and African American admissions by 32% since last year.

Harvard also set records in admitting a freshman class comprised of 14% African Americans and 22.1% Asian-Americans. Nearly 37% of Johns Hopkins regular decision admits self-identify as members of underrepresented minorities, a school record. Northwestern admitted a record number of international and Chicago Public Schools students through early decision, and a record number of Pell-eligible students through regular decision.

Tips for Future Applicants

In a competitive admissions climate that’s 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. 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.

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.

Highly selective schools are experiencing higher applicant pools, acceptance rates are low and dropping, and many students are told to dream big. 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. While early acceptance rates tend to be higher than regular acceptance rates, applying early 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 happy 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!

Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2020

As always, the early admissions process is a time of excitement, waiting, and sometimes, disappointment. The roller coaster of college admissions is off and running, and we are here to analyze the ever-changing landscape of acceptance, denial, and deferral. Take an in-depth look at this year’s trends and statistics to see how you fit into the early admissions picture.

Overall Early Application Numbers

Many schools continue to see a steady rise in early application numbers each year, resulting in increased selectivity. Harvard experienced an unusually high jump in early applications over the last two years, with a 32% increase, and selectivity correspondingly dropped from 21.1 to 14.8%. Notable exceptions include Yale and Brown, which have seen a slight dip in early applications over the past two years.

Columbia University had their largest early applicant pool in school history (3,520), which was a 4.4% increase from last year. MIT, Penn, Duke, Tufts, Northwestern, and Johns Hopkins University also saw record-breaking numbers of early applicants.

The Tech reports that MIT’s increase in early applicants may be due, in part, to their new policy that international students were allowed to apply for consideration during the early action round of admissions this year.

According to Jeff Schiffman, Tulane’s Interim Admissions Director, “Tulane saw a pretty substantial increase in applications this year. Could be linked to joining the Common App, could be a number of reasons.”

Duke’s early acceptance rate of 23.5% is the lowest in the school’s early decision program history.

The following chart compares early action application numbers and acceptance rates for the class of 2020, 2019, and 2018. As a refresher, early decision (ED) is binding and mandates enrollment, single choice early action (SCEA) is restrictive but allows the student to wait until May 1 to decide, and early action (EA) is unrestrictive and non-binding. Early decision is typically associated with higher acceptance rates because the school is guaranteed enrollment, which increases the yield factor, and brings to campus students who have demonstrated a high degree of interest.

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The statistics for deferral are not as widely published as acceptance rates. According to the available information, many schools defer more than half of their early applicant pool to the regular admissions round. Notable exceptions include Stanford (9%) and Duke (19%), who deny most applicants who are not accepted; for these schools, deferral is used to indicate that your application is competitive and will be given serious consideration in the regular admissions process.

Overall, deferral rates have remained steady since 2018 or slightly decreased. One exception was Harvard, whose deferral rate rose from 68% for the Class of 2018 to 75.7% for the Class of 2020, possibly in direct relation to the significant drop in acceptance rate. Denials remained fairly constant, from an unofficial estimation of 10.9% for the Class of 2018 to 9.5% for the Class of 2020.

Princeton posted an unusually high deferral rate of 78.9% for the Class of 2018, prompting The Daily Princetonian to write several editorials urging the Admissions Office to “reduce the number of deferrals and give out more definite decisions to its early admit pool…. a clear rejection motivates applicants to invest wholeheartedly into the application processes for other universities.”

Some schools like the University of Michigan are using large numbers of deferrals to control class size as they have continued to receive increasingly large early applicant pools. According to The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan only admitted 6,071 students to the Class of 2019, a drop of 434 students from the previous year. This paring back was sparked by administrator concern over a trend of over-enrollment. For the class of 2019, Michigan’s overall admissions rate dropped to 26.2 percent from 32.2 percent for the class of 2018.

And Michigan is continuing this approach for the Class of 2020. “Several measures — such as deferring more individuals who apply early action and waitlisting more applicants in the regular decision cycle— were instituted beginning with the class of 2019 to avoid exceeding target enrollment numbers.”

For deferred students, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of admission in Regular Decision, including re-visiting, arranging for an additional letter of recommendation from a 12th grade teacher, and sending a follow-up letter with updates. Above all, stay positive, and continue to do your best academically. See our blog for more information.

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Higher Numbers of Diverse and International Students

Top selective colleges continue to use early admissions for the big “hooks” – underrepresented minorities, lower socioeconomic, first-generation, and international students, as well as recruited athletes, and legacies.

Colleges have successfully broadened their outreach efforts to attract a more diverse applicant pool. Over the past two years, Yale has recorded a 15% increase in early applications by minority students, and international student early applications have risen 12%. Tufts reported that overseas early applications increased by 9% this year, and that notably China had the highest numbers and rose by 18%.

Schools are receiving more diverse and international early applicants and in turn are increasing their admission percentages of these groups.

This year, Princeton reported that 42% of their admitted early applicants were U.S. students from diverse backgrounds and 11% were international students, which is up from 8% international early admissions in 2018. Dartmouth’s accepted early admissions pool includes 30% of students from diverse backgrounds (26% last year), 9% international students (8% last year), and 19% alumni legacy (same as last year). Early decision admits at Penn include 44% minority students (up from 40% last year), and 11% international students.

Michael Mills, associate provost for Northwestern University enrollment states, “We have higher numbers and percentages of underrepresented minority students. We have higher numbers and percentage of low income students than last year, and Chicago Public Schools students have been an important focus of ours.” In addition, almost 10% of Northwestern’s early decision pool is comprised of international students, which marks a nearly 25% increase from the number of international early applicants admitted last year.

Large Percentage of Incoming Freshman Class Filled with Early Applicants

Some schools continue to fill a significant portion of their incoming freshman class from the early applicant pool. This year, Brown admitted the largest early applicant cohort (669 students) since the school adopted the early decision program in 2001. Historically, Brown has filled 35-38% of its freshman class through ED, but could top 40% this year if the freshman class size remains the same.

Northwestern’s early admission cohort will make up more than 50% of the incoming class of 2020, which breaks last year’s record of 49%. Tufts’ early admissions expects to fill half of the class of 2020 through their two early decision rounds.

Penn plans for their early decision admits to comprise 54.6 percent of the target class of 2,445 students for the class of 2020, fairly steady from the 54.4% ED cohort for the class of 2019.

Unfortunately, when colleges fill such a significant portion of their freshman class through ED, the competitive pressure during Regular Decision is even more intense due to the larger numbers of applicants, and the fewer spots remaining.

 Expanding Enrollment

Some schools are increasing their freshman class sizes as part of a strategic plan to increase the size of the school and accommodate more applicants.

According to the Yale News, “Jeremiah Quinlan, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, noted that the Class of 2020 will be the last class to matriculate at Yale with the current 12 residential colleges. When two new residential colleges open their doors as scheduled in 2017, the undergraduate student body will expand for the first time in a generation, and future classes will increase by roughly 15%.”

UVA has several plans to accommodate growing class sizes, including new construction of additional first year housing which will be completed in August 2016. According to UVA Deputy Spokesperson, Matthew Charles, “The Board of Visitors and President Sullivan have authorized 105 new strategic faculty hires over the next five years in response to the expected growth in students.”

Since 2005, Princeton has enacted a plan of continued gradual expansion to increase its total undergraduates from about 4,600 to about 5,100 students. Princeton enrolled 1,308 students for the Class of 2018; this class size was slightly larger than the previously reported estimate of 1,290 because the University determined it had more capacity for the next academic year.

Stanford University also has plans to increase its undergraduate enrollment slowly over the next few years. According to the Washington Post, “Stanford University, which turns down roughly 19 out of every 20 applicants, wants to grow its entering freshman class by an estimated 100 students in the fall of 2016. That would translate to a class of about 1,800.” Stanford President, John L. Hennessy, said they will gradually expand entering classes until they reach a comfort level with their overall student population.

Washington University in St. Louis’ administrators unveiled plans to admit freshman classes at the large freshman size of the Class of 2018 (1,765 students) for the next several years until the undergraduate population reaches a total enrollment of 7,000.

Navigating the decisions of where to apply early decision or early action can be daunting, but here at Collegiate Gateway we are happy to help you decipher your options and understand the changing landscape of early admissions. Please feel free to contact us!


Regular Admissions Trends for the Class of 2019

As a follow-up to our blog on Early Admissions Trends for the Class of 2019, we bring you highlights from this year’s Regular Admissions outcomes! From increasing selectivity to expanding financial aid programs, here are some of the most noteworthy trends in college admissions.

Overall Acceptance Rates

Overall, application numbers and acceptance rates were fairly steady compared to last year. Duke’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Christoph Guttentag, said, “Nationwide we’ve stopped seeing that sharp increase [in applications] that we saw from about 2008 to 2013 across the board. I think for most schools that has settled down.” But many selective universities still showed modest increases in selectivity.  For example, Harvard’s overall acceptance rate over the past year declined from 5.9% for the Class of 2018 to 5.3% for the Class of 2019; Princeton’s, from 7.28% to 6.99% and Williams, from 18.2% to 16.9%.

In general, colleges continue to admit a much higher rate of students from the early, rather than the regular, applicant pool. The early versus regular acceptance rates, cited in the table below, illustrate the impact of students demonstrating interest to top-choice schools by applying early (and thereby improving their chances of acceptance). While this may make applying early that much more enticing, keep in mind a binding Early Decision admissions program (as opposed to a non-binding Early Action program) should only be pursued if the college is your absolute first choice, and you understand your binding commitment to attend.

Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2019 versus 2018




Regular Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019* Early Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Admissions Acceptance Rate for Class of 2019 Overall Admissions Acceptance Rate for Class of 2018
Bowdoin College n/a n/a 14.9% 14.9%
Brown University (ED) 7.2% 20.3% 8.5% 8.6%
California Institute of Technology (EA) n/a n/a n/a 9%
California, University of, Berkeley n/a n/a n/a 17%
Columbia University (ED) n/a n/a 6.1% 6.94%
Cornell University (ED) n/a n/a 14.9% 14%
Dartmouth College (ED) 8.8% 26% 10.3% 11.5%
Duke University (ED) 7.4% 26% 9.4% 9%
Georgetown University (EA) 18.1% 13% 16.4% 16.6%
Harvard University (SCEA) 3.2% 16.5% 5.3% 5.9%
Johns Hopkins University (ED) 11% 28.9% 12.4% 15%
Lehigh University n/a n/a n/a 34%
MIT (EA) 7.1% 9.6% 8% 7.7%
Middlebury College (ED) 14.7% 45.3% 17% 17.3%
Northwestern University (ED) 10.8% 36.2% 13.1% 12.9%
Princeton University (SCEA) 4.9% 19.9% 6.99% 7.28%
Rice University n/a n/a 14.7% 14.1%
Stanford University (SCEA) 3.9% 10.2% 5.05% 5.07%
Swarthmore College n/a n/a 12.2% 16.8%
University of Chicago (EA) n/a n/a 7.8% 8.4%
University of Notre Dame (REA) 16.2% 29.8% 19.7% 20.8%
University of Pennsylvania (ED) 7.5% 24% 9.9% 9.9%
University of Southern California n/a n/a 17.5% 17.8%
University of Virginia n/a n/a 28.5% 28.9%
Vanderbilt University 9.5% n/a n/a 12.3%
Washington University in St. Louis n/a n/a n/a 17.1%
Williams College (ED) 14.5% 41% 16.8% 18.2%
Yale University (SCEA) 4.7% 16% 6.5% 6.3%

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

Notable Moments from this year’s Regular Admissions Process

Some schools did see a jump in the number of applicants

Though many schools continued to see application numbers level off, a few did experience significant growth. Vanderbilt, an increasingly popular university, has had its acceptance rate plummet over the past eight years due to a significant rise in the number of applicants. This year, 27,822 students applied to attend Vanderbilt during the regular decision period, whereas in 2007, only 11,798 students applied regular decision. Vanderbilt’s regular decision acceptance rate was 31% in 2007. This year it was 9.5%, a continued drop from the 11% rate the previous year.

Douglas Christiansen, Vanderbilt’s vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions, explains that the rise in applications is caused by increased interest from international students, as well as those who live in other regions of the country.

“[Students are] responding to the educational brand, to the educational experience we’re offering. Vanderbilt has really moved into being a true national institution with national (and international) reach.”

Similarly, the University of Chicago received a 10% increase in applications from last year. According to The Chicago Maroon, “Much of the University of Chicago’s steep increase in applications is credited to recent changes in the application process. Applicant numbers rose after the University announced earlier in 2014 that it would be utilizing the Universal College Application (UCA), an alternate application system to the Common Application, for the Class of 2019. Technical glitches in the Common Application system around the time of application deadlines earlier last year resulted in a decline in applicants.”

The University of Chicago has also increased construction plans, from the new Institute of Molecular Engineering to the Logan Center for the Arts, which has attracted many new applicants.

Financial aid expands 

Stanford University made headlines this year when they raised the income thresholds at which parents are not expected to contribute toward tuition from $100,000 to $125,000. For parents with annual incomes below $65,000, there will be no parental contribution toward tuition and room and board.

Similarly, The University of Chicago announced that “No Barriers,” an expansion of the Odyssey Scholars program and other financial aid policy reforms, will take effect beginning with the Class of 2019. The university aims to eliminate loans, waive application fees, and provide additional funding and support for low- and middle-income students.

“With UChicago ‘No Barriers’ and our other commitments, we are ensuring that people from all backgrounds and all incomes can afford to attend the University, and that they can thrive and succeed in whatever path they choose,” said President Robert J. Zimmer.

According to The Washington Post, Franklin & Marshall College has also expanded its need-based financial aid program and decreased its merit-based aid program.

A continued shift in the popularity of intended majors

Due to the economic climate, the overall popularity of business, healthcare, and STEM-related majors continues to rise. Swarthmore College states that engineering is the most popular intended major among the admitted students for the Class of 2019.

According to USA Today, four of the five fastest growing majors are in STEM or pre-pre-professional fields: health and medical prep programs (31%), homeland security and emergency preparedness (26%), physical sciences (25%), and engineering-related fields (23%). The only exception is behavioral science (89% growth), which falls within the liberal arts.

As a result, many schools have filled up the admissions slots in these areas, and are looking to accept liberal arts or undecided majors. At Georgetown, for example, science classes and spots for incoming science majors have all been filled. Therefore, the College waitlist is expected to only see movement for students with undeclared majors. The McDonough School of Business and the School of Nursing and Health Studies have also been completely filled for the class of 2019.

Likewise, the University of Notre Dame has recently capped enrollment in its Mendoza Business School at 550 students per class, due to overcrowding from internal transfers, especially from the College of Arts and Letters. Bloomberg Business has ranked Notre Dame’s undergraduate business program number one in the country for the past five years.

“While the total number of Notre Dame undergraduates has essentially held constant over the past 10 years, the number of undergraduates enrolled in Arts & Letters has plummeted,” said the Observer. “Political science, once the most popular undergraduate major with 684 enrollees, has lost 38% of its students since the spring of 2004. Likewise, the history department has dropped from 324 to 196 undergraduate majors, and English has fallen from 424 to 239. Over the same period, the number of finance majors has climbed from 368 to 482 (25%). It is now the most popular major at Notre Dame.”

Application extensions

This year, several colleges, including Bates, Chicago, Duke, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Vanderbilt, offered extensions for their January admissions deadlines.

The University of Pennsylvania gave applicants an extra four days to submit application materials. “The Office of Admissions chose to extend the deadline in order to provide students with more time to enjoy their holidays. Previously, the deadline had only been extended in the case of extenuating circumstances, such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Common Application glitches last year.”

According to Bloomberg Business, “Colleges that extend deadlines say they are merely trying to give more students a chance to apply and receive scholarships. Yet students and even some colleges are asking whether the extra days are penalizing on-time applicants. The extensions are bewildering teenagers and high school guidance counselors.”

Another reason for these extensions may have to do with the fact that application numbers are beginning to level off. Perhaps colleges have extended deadlines in order to increase or keep applications numbers steady, so that selectivity figures are not negatively impacted.

The tuition cost of public universities continues to rise

As a recent New York Times article recently highlighted, most elite public universities are raising tuition for in-state students. At the same time, they are also restricting the number of in-state students admitted in order to make way for out-of-state and international students (who pay even higher tuition). Overall, the result is that college is becoming less and less affordable for many families.

The LA Times discusses the particularly heated battle between the University of California system and state government over university funding. “In recent years, UC sharply increased the numbers of students from outside the state because they pay about $23,000 more in tuition than Californians do. But the rising presence of non-Californians is a hot political item, and legislative proposals to increase state funding to the UC require a freeze on their ranks.”

UC President Janet Napolitano said the number of out-of-state students offered admission will be capped next year at UCLA and Berkeley, “where the demand is highest,” but she did not freeze non-resident admissions at the other seven undergraduate campuses.

Deciding where – and how – to apply to college can be daunting. For guidance deciphering your options and understanding the changing landscape of college admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway – as always, we’re happy to help.

Transfer Admissions Part I: Your Chances

An increasing number of students are seeking transfer admissions, according to Alexander Ott, a past president of the New York State Transfer and Articulation Association. In fact, about a third of all college students transfer at some point in their college career, including transfers between community colleges and four-year colleges, as well as between four-year colleges themselves. Students transfer for a variety of reasons, including changes in their financial or family circumstances, evolution of their academic interests, and/or growing self-awareness about their “best-fit” college environment.

If you are considering transferring to a different college, what are your chances of acceptance? According to NACAC’s “Special Report on the Transfer Admission Process,” published in April 2010, “the average acceptance rate for transfer applicants was slightly lower than the rate for first-year students (64% versus 69%).”  For first-year freshman admission, public and private colleges had equivalent acceptance rates; in contrast, transfer admission rates were less favorable for private colleges (62%) than for public colleges (70%).

In order to learn more, Collegiate Gateway conducted its own research, evaluating about 100 four-year colleges that are among the most popular colleges for freshman admission among our students, and compared the transfer and freshman admit rate. For ease of comparison, the higher (more favorable) admissions rate appears in red.

Public Institutions: Most public institutions have a higher (or more favorable) transfer admit rate than regular admit rate.  These schools tend to receive thousands of transfer applications:


# Undergrads

# Transfer Applications

Transfer Admit Rate

Freshman Admit Rate

SUNY Binghamton 12,356 4905 48% 40%
Univ of Connecticut 17,528 2278 59% 54%
UCLA 18,503 3169 43% 34%
Univ of Florida 32,776 5996 41% 38%
Univ of North Carolina 18,503 3169 43% 34%
William and Mary 6,171 929 44% 34%


There are always exceptions to the rule, and a few exceptions of public institutions with a lower transfer admit rate than freshman admit rate include: University of Colorado, with a transfer admit rate of 64% vs. a freshman admit rate of 78%; University of Michigan, with a transfer admit rate of 35% vs. freshman admit rate of 41%; University of Wisconsin, with a transfer admit rate of 46% vs. freshman admit rate of 57%.  This could be attributed to the relatively high percentage of returning freshman at these colleges (84%, 96% and 94%, respectively).


Private Colleges:  Interestingly, most private institutions have a lower (or less favorable) transfer admit rate than regular admit rate. These schools tend to receive fewer than 1500 transfer applications:


# Undergrads

# Transfer Applications

Transfer Admit Rate

Freshman Admit Rate

Bowdoin University 1751 177 3% 20%
Colgate University 2,871 245 9% 33%
Haverford College 1,205 77 12% 26%
Middlebury College 2,516 424 6% 17%
Northwestern 8,600 1,435 12% 26%
Tulane Univ 8,423 1,475 16% 26%


Students seeking to transfer would be encouraged at the following relatively rare exceptions of private colleges that have a higher transfer admit rate than freshman admit rate. These include Connecticut College (36% transfer admit rate, 32% freshman admit rate), Elon University (56% transfer, 49% freshman), Emory (36% transfer vs. 32% regular), Northeastern (47% transfer vs. 38% regular), University of Miami (59% transfer vs. 44% regular), Vanderbilt (26% transfer vs. 20% regular), Wesleyan (28% transfer vs. 22% regular). Certainly, each of these institutions has a unique circumstance that encourages transfer students – a future blog may explore this further!


Most importantly, regardless of the statistics, you always have a shot at transferring to your dream school, if you engage fully in the academics and activities at college, strive to reach your potential, and become more knowledgeable about the college features that are a good fit for you.


Most Selective Colleges.  Students often seek to transfer in order to be at a more selective and academically challenging college. Here are the admit rates for a selected group of colleges considered to be among the most “elite” and academically rigorous. Note that freshman admit rate is higher than transfer admit rate for all these selective universities except Cornell. This could be attributed to the fact that all but Cornell are private institutions; of Cornell’s seven undergraduate colleges, four are public institutions within the SUNY system, and are especially welcoming to transfers.



# Undergrads

# Transfer Applications

Transfer Admit Rate

Freshman Admit Rate

Amherst College 1,817 509 4% 15%
Brown University 6,435 1867 5% 9%
Cornell University 14,261 3579 21% 18%
Dartmouth College 4,193 799 4% 12%
Harvard University 6,658 1486 1% 7%
MIT 4,503 443 10% 10%
Princeton University 5,336 Does not accept transfers 10%
Stanford University 7,063 1512 2% 16%
Swarthmore College 1,552 191 9% 17%
Univ of Pennsylvania 9,682 2096 9% 17%
Williams College 2,052 257 4% 20%
Yale University 5,405 970 3% 8%

*Information for Columbia not available


Whether you’re considering regular or transfer admission, the application process is ultimately about finding the right fit for YOU, so that you can get the most out of your college experience possible.  For more information and guidance, contact www.collegiategateway.com.