The University received a total of 26,607 applications for the Class of 2018, the highest number it has received since the reinstatement of the single-choice early action program with the Class of 2016. The applicant pool is the third highest in the University’s history, the University said in a press release.
The total number for the Class of 2018 marks a 0.4 percent increase from the Class of 2017 and includes 3,854 applications from the early round.
Prior to the decision, the number of applications had risen for seven consecutive years until reaching an all-time record of 27,189 for the Class of 2015. The Class of 2016, the first to apply under the single-choice early action program, saw a 1.7 percent decrease in applications compared to the record number the previous year. The Classes of 2016 and 2017 represent, respectively, the second and fourth largest application pools in University history.
“We’re really pleased with the size and the quality of the applicant pool this year,” Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said in an interview.
Rapelye attributed the increase in applications to greater University outreach. Admission officers traveled more often in groups with other schools and tried to make sure they were accessible to students by responding to requests for information as quickly as possible, she said.
Rapelye explained that there has been a recent plateau in the number of high school graduates, and therefore a small jump in applications from the Class of 2017 is not surprising.
Moreover, she added, the quality of the applicants matters more than the quantity.
“This is a very good place for us to be,” she said. “This is not necessarily a race to get a total number. We want to make sure the students applying to Princeton are really serious about their candidacy,” she said.
The current admission cycle involves a 94.3 percent increase in applicants from 10 years ago, the University said. In the past, Rapelye has attributed the growth in the applicant pool to the University’s outreach to high school students, switch to the Common Application and use of Score Choice, which allows students to send only their best standardized test results.
Among early applicants to the Class of 2018, the University accepted 714 students at a rate of 18.5 percent. Only 1.3 percent of early action applicants were rejected this year, compared to 7.9 percent for the Class of 2017 and around 23 percent for the Class of 2016, according to figures maintained by The Daily Princetonian.
Ongoing problems with the Common Application from August to November caused many difficulties in submitting application materials, and the admission office rejected fewer early applicants to ensure that candidates received fair treatment, she explained.
“We always make our own decisions. We always make it in the best interest of the students. And I think most students would prefer to be deferred and considered again than to be refused on the first pass,” Rapelye said.
The admission staff will reevaluate the files of deferred applicants and adjust to the workload as it does every year, she added.
Several other Ivy League schools have also reported greater numbers of applications. Yale received a record 30,922 applications, a 3.8 percent increase over its previous record with the Class of 2017. The University of Pennsylvania received a record 35,788 applications in a 14.4 percent jump from last year. Brown received its second largest applicant pool in history, a slight increase from the previous cycle.
Harvard, which also reinstated its early action program in 2012, saw a 1.9 percent drop in the number of applications for a total of 34,295.
Dartmouth, Columbia and Cornell have not yet released application numbers.
Admission decisions will be announced on March 27.