Correction: In a previous version of this article, The Daily incorrectly reported that Yale College received fewer applications for the class of 2016 than it did for the class of 2015. In fact, Yale received 5.8 percent more applications this year. The Daily regrets this error.
Stanford set a University record when it received 36,744 applications before the Jan. 1 deadline this year, while Harvard and Princeton all experienced a slight dip in applications compared to the previous year.
Stanford’s Class of 2016 admissions pool represents a seven percent increase from the 34,348 applications for the Class of 2015.
“You know, I expected this year actually that [the number of applicants] might hit a ceiling, and it didn’t,” Dean of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said. “It kept moving up and…I think that’s a compliment to the University.”
When asked why he thought Stanford continued to see more applications this year than ever, Shaw pointed to the University’s five Rhodes Scholars – of 32 total – for 2012.
“That’s not bad in one year,” he said.
Additionally, Shaw attributed some of Stanford’s popularity to the ease of the Common Application, national news articles and even the success of Stanford’s football and women’s soccer teams.
Shaw noted he expects to eventually see a plateau in the size of Stanford’s applicant pool given the national high school demographics.
“But right now, the trend is upward,” Shaw said. “It’s been upward for the last five years or so.”
While Stanford received 49 fewer early action applications this year (5,880) as compared to last year (5,929), its early admission rate was still marginally lower than that of Harvard, Yale or Princeton. Stanford admitted 12.8 percent of its early applicants whereas Yale, Harvard and Princeton accepted 15.7, 18.2 and 21.0 percent, respectively. Both Harvard and Princeton reinstated their restrictive early action programs this past year after a four-year hiatus.
“We expected they’d impact us, but they didn’t. They may be sharing common candidates in the Northeast. They probably are sharing them with us, but we have other people interested, so…we went up more precipitously than they did in terms of applications,” Shaw said.
“In our case, Princeton and Harvard joining Yale in our restrictive early action – to me, that creates even a level of greater sanity,” he added. “Young people applying early to those programs should be doing so because it’s their first choice or close to it, and they get out of the applicant pools of everybody else.”
Indeed, Harvard saw a record amount of applications for the Class of 2015 last year, reaching 34,950 interested students, and received fewer applications this year, even after reinstating its early action program. Of the 34,285 applications submitted by the regular decision deadline, only the 772 students who were accepted early action have been guaranteed their spot in the Class of 2016, potentially drawing them out of the applicant pool for other elite universities.
Princeton released statistics confirming the same trend as Harvard. Last year, Princeton received 27,189 applications for the Class of 2015, as compared to 26,663 applications this year for the Class of 2016. While this applicant pool is still the second largest in the school’s history, the increase may be reflective of Princeton’s 2005 initiative to swell its student body from 4,700 to 5,200. On Dec. 15, 2011, Princeton accepted the first 726 students into its Class of 2016.
Yale, however, did experience an uptick in the number of applicants as compared to last year. 28,870 high school seniors applied to be a part of the Bulldogs’ Class of 2016, a 5.8 percent rise from the 27,283 students who applied to be a member of the Class of 2015.
“When we were by ourselves in the restrictive program, and Princeton and Harvard were out, their candidates might have applied to us, and then they would apply to them later and have to wait until the spring. But we’d lose some of those kids. We’d also gained some [from early programs] and [Princeton and Harvard] knew that,” Shaw said, reflecting on the effect Ivy League admissions might have on Stanford’s yield. “But I think [the early program] distributes the students if these are the institutions they’re interested in. If it takes them out of the pool, and they’re not collecting trophies of admissions, then that’s a good thing.”
The reinstitution of early programs might mean that there is more space for other applicants after several “trophy-collectors” are taken out of the pool by an acceptance from their top choice school, Shaw said.
With application numbers increasing and additional students vying for a place in the Stanford student body, Shaw encouraged high school seniors to take their applications seriously by making sure that they can be competitive among the rest of the applicant pool.
“Students should really be clear about and know that they are competitive for a place in the class,” Shaw said. “They should pay attention in all these institutions in terms of…the competitive characteristics of those places, the grade point averages, and pay attention to what they read in their applications, the application instructions and so forth.”
Despite his warning, Shaw does not discourage interested applicants from applying to Stanford.
“We’re really excited about the fact that there’s a lot of interest,” he said. “It’s very extraordinary. We’ve been discovered.”