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|
|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%|
|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%|
|Stanford University (SCEA)||3.9%||10.2%||5.05%||5.07%|
|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%|
|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.”
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.