A pandemic-fueled surge in applications translated into record low acceptance rates this year for the country’s elite colleges, including most of the Ivy League.
Harvard University admitted 1,968 candidates, or 3.4% of the 57,435 people who applied. The previous lowest acceptance rate was 4.6% two years ago. Applications surged 43% over last year.
Yale University accepted 4.6% of the 46,905 people who applied. The applicant pool grew by 33% over last year, when the school accepted 6.6% of applicants.
Columbia University in New York City was the second hardest school to get into among the Ivies. Of the 60,551 students who applied, just 3.7% were accepted—down from 6.3% last year.
The eight schools making up the Ivy League and several other highly selective colleges late Tuesday notified applicants whether or not they had secured a slot for the coming fall’s first-year class. Notices went out a week later than in previous years to give admission officers time to vet the deluge of applications.
Hundreds of additional colleges, including most elite schools, stopped requiring an ACT or SAT standardized-test score as part of the admissions process this year because it was difficult to safely sit for the exams during the pandemic. The test-optional policy boosted applications as the number of open seats declined when a disproportionate number of students deferred admission due to the pandemic.
“Ten percent of the class entering this fall were admitted a year ago, and decided to take a gap year,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, where a 25% uptick in applications drove the acceptance rate to a record low 5.8% from 8.1% last year. “That left fewer places than usual.”
More than 100,000 students applied to New York University and the school accepted 12.8%—a record low. Among those accepted, 20% are the first in their family to go to college, 20% are low income, and 29% come from traditionally underrepresented groups, the school said.
At Dartmouth, where the acceptance rate dropped to 6.2% from 9.2% last year, 48% of accepted students identify as Black, indigenous or other people of color, the school said, while 17% are the first in their family to attend college.
“It is safe to say this is the most broadly diverse accepted class in the long history of Dartmouth,” said Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid.
Applications were elevated at brand name schools, but were flat or down at many lesser known institutions. The rich are getting richer and a lot of other schools are struggling, said Bill Conley, founder and co-principal 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 everybody 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 dropped to 4% from 5.6% last year.
Acceptance rates can continue to shift as schools turn to their wait lists to round out their classes, so numbers aren’t considered final until the start of the school year. Last year, many selective schools dug unusually deep into their wait lists because so many students decided to take a gap year.
“That was a unicorn year, wait lists were over utilized,” Hafeez Lakhani, a college counselor in New York and president of Lakhani Coaching, said of highly selective schools. “My best guess is this year will be the opposite.”
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.