Acceptance Rates At Top Schools Reach Record Lows

By Staff

April 2, 2009

Many of the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities are reporting markedly lower acceptance rates than usual, which are being attributed to significant increases in applications this year.

Both The New York Times and US News and World Report note how the top colleges' admissions have fared this year. Among them, Harvard's acceptance rate dipped to 7 percent this year, admitting just 2,046 of 29,112 applicants and less than last year's 7.9 percent. Nevertheless, the Harvard Crimson reports that 98 more students will be offered spots than last year, when 1,948 students were accepted. The school received 6 percent more applicants this year, making admissions much more competitive.

At Columbia University, 13 percent more students applied this year-a total of 25,428. Consequently, only 9.82 percent of students were accepted.

Similarly, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's acceptance rate plummeted to a record low of 10 percent this year, owing to a 17 percent increase in applications. The Tech reports that according to Stuart Schmill, the school's dean of admissions, more students are applying to more schools in order to compare costs, and families are attracted to MIT's history of assisting with generous financial aid packages.

At Brown University, the Brown Daily Herald reports that this year's applicant pool rose 21 percent this year-the largest reported rise in applications among Ivy League schools. The school will only be admitting 2,708 of its nearly 25,000 applicants-about 10.8 percent, while 13.3 percent were admitted last year.

Duke University's The Chronicle reports a 17 percent acceptance rate for its new freshman class, its lowest rate in history.

"We'll be denying and wait-listing people that we may have easily admitted a year or two ago," noted Christoph Guttentag, the school's dean of undergraduate admissions. "In terms of talent broadly defined, this is the best class we've ever seen. And that's made possible by a larger applicant pool."

At Cornell University, 19 percent of applicants were admitted, down from 20 percent this year. The school also offered more than 3,000 applicants a spot on its waiting list-about 120 more than last year.

Meanwhile, Yale admitted 7.5 applicants, compared to 8.6 percent who were accepted last year. The school has also placed 769 applicants on next year's waiting list.

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