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Students working toward college acceptance, especially acceptance to the most elite colleges, are facing fierce competition for even fewer admission slots. Due in large part to schools, both public and private, relaxing their standardized test criteria, and students deferring admission last year because of COVID-19, the number and caliber of college applicants have grown dramatically.  With record numbers of students applying to the top universities in the country, many more students than usual are dealing with rejection as we head into the fall.

The student body assembled for the Class of 2021 is unlike any before it! Many elite schools saw a dramatic increase in applications, especially early applications, with Princeton up 18 percent and Columbia, Duke, Dartmouth, and Cornell reporting the largest early application pools in their histories.

All Ivy League institutions and many other selective colleges have released their early admissions stats*. We’ve compiled them below and will continue to update the numbers applying to, and accepted by, these elite institutions.

Ivy League Schools

Brown University: Brown accepted 22 percent of its early decision applicants to the Class of 2021, offering spots to 695 students out of 3,170 applications the largest number of students ever admitted early decision. Brown accepted 22 percent of early applicants to the class of 2020, 20 percent to the class of 2019 and 18.9 percent to the class of 2018.

Columbia University: Columbia has not released acceptance rates but we can tell you they received 4,086 early decision applications to Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science this year, once again setting a record for the largest number of early decision applicants in Columbia history. The number of early decision applicants rose by 16 percent from last year, when the admissions office received 3,520 applications.

Cornell University: A record number of 5,384 students applied early decision for admission to Cornell’s Class of 2021 with 1,378 acceptances representing a 10.3 percent increase from last year. This year’s numbers broke the record, set last year by the early decision of the Class of 2020. Cornell’s early decision pool has increased by 78 percent within the past decade. Of these applicants to Cornell, 25.6 percent were admitted, a smaller fraction than last year, when the University accepted 27.4 percent of applicants.

Dartmouth College: Dartmouth accepted 555 students into the Class of 2021, selected from a record-large pool of 1,999 applicants. The admitted students will form approximately 47 percent of the incoming class. This year’s 27.8 percent acceptance rate is an increase from last year’s 25.6 percent. The overall number of applications went up by 3.7 percent.

Harvard University: Harvard is the dream school for many, and applications for early action rose 5 percent this year to 6,473, reflecting that fact. 14.5 percent, or 938 students, were admitted to the Class of 2021 representing a 5 percent increase in early applicants compared to the Class of 2020. Last year, 6,167 applied early, and 14.8 percent, or 914 students, were admitted.

UPENN: Penn admitted 22 percent of its early decision applicants to the Class of 2021 this year, slightly lower than last year’s rate of 23.2 percent. A record-breaking total of 6,147 applications were submitted in the early decision round. Of that number, 1,354 were accepted. The number of early decision applications increased by 7 percent from last year, and has grown by 28 percent in the last four years since the Class of 2017 applied. Penn typically admits around half of its total class in the Early Decision round. Last year, 55 percent of the total 2,445 spots available were filled by Early Decision applicants.

Princeton: Princeton University has offered admission to 770 students from a pool of 5,003 candidates who applied through single-choice early action for the Class of 2021. The pool was the largest in the last six years, representing an 18.3 percent increase over last year’s early applicant pool. The admission rate was 15.4 percent. In 2015, the early admit rate was 18.6 percent.

Yale University: Yale welcomed the largest group of admitted early action students in several years, inviting 871 students to join the class of 2021. The admitted students represent 17.1 percent of a pool of 5,086 early applicants. The early action application pool this year is 9 percent larger than last year, an uptick marking the first major increase in early application numbers after a three- year period of relative stagnation.

Other Top American Colleges

Dickinson College: Dickinson extends offers of admission to 203 Early Decision (ED) applicants for the Class of 2021.

Duke University: A record number of students (3,516) applied early, with Duke accepting 861 applicants into the Class of 2021 (691 into Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, 170 in the Pratt School of Engineering). This reflects a 24.5 percent acceptance rate, which is the second most selective early decision process in Duke’s history. These 861 students admitted into the freshman class through early decision will make up 50 percent of the Class of 2021.

This year’s 3,516 applicants are 2 percent more than last year. Last year, 3,455 students applied early decision, and 813 were admitted an acceptance rate of 23.5 percent. The early decision acceptance rates for the Class of 2019 and Class of 2018 were 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Georgetown University: Georgetown accepted just fewer than 12 percent (931) of its 7,822 early action applicants to the Class of 2021, a record-low rate being 1 percent lower than last year’s 13 percent. Georgetown also saw the early applicant pool of high school seniors increase by 11 percent from last year as well. Thus, it maintains its reputation as one of the most selective colleges in the country. 

Johns Hopkins: The 1,934 early decision applicants this year represent a slight increase from last year’s record number of 1,929 who applied early decision. With 591 early decision acceptances for the Class of 2021, this reflects a 30.56 percent acceptance rate – information that’s important for prospective students to have.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: This year, 8,394 students applied for early admission to MIT, and early admission was offered to 657 applicants reflecting an early acceptance rate of 7.83 percent.

Northwestern University: Northwestern saw 3,736 applications for undergraduate admissions, an increase of about 23 percent from last year.

Notre Dame: Notre Dame admitted 1,470 early action applicants to the Class of 2021. 6,020 students applied for consideration under the Restricted Early Action program reflecting a 24.4 percent acceptance rate. Early applications were up 10 percent over last year.

Stanford University: Declined to release early decision data for Class of 2021.

University of Chicago: Not available

Williams College: Williams College has offered admission to 257 students under its Early Decision plan reflecting a 35 percent acceptance rate. These students make up nearly 47 percent of the undergraduate enrollment for the Class of 2021, whose ultimate target size is 550. 728 students applied, a 25 percent increase over last year and a record number for Early Decision.

To get into the success stream that can get you an Early Admission, increase your chances of admission to both public schools and private schools and put students across the spectrum – low-income students, middle class students and even international students — on track to be accepted by the most selective universities, consider Ivy Bound. We have a reputation for helping the vast majority of students applying to these elite universities to enhance their standardized test scores significantly. School students and their parents can reach us 7 days a week at 877-IVY-BOUND (877-975-1600).  We are always happy to discuss a students’ chances for college admission based on his or her GPA, standardized test scores so far, extracurricular activities and schools and areas of interest. We can also advise Ivy Bound classes, sessions and tutoring programs that can get applicants into even the most competitive schools, including highly selective liberal arts colleges like Amherst College, Swarthmore College and Middlebury College.

*All information extrapolated from each institution’s website, respectively.

By Michele Hernandez and Mimi Doe, Founders of Top Tier Admissions Edited for Ivy Bound clients by Mark Greenstein, Founder, Ivy Bound Test Prep Read Previous Article:

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