Record applicant numbers for Class of 2013 fall short of peers
The University received a record 21,886 applications for the Class of 2013, representing a 2 percent increase from last year, Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said in an interview last week. The rise in applicants to Princeton — smaller this year than in past years — falls short of the increases seen at several other Ivy League schools this year.
Harvard’s applicant pool grew by 5 percent this year, while Dartmouth’s increased by 7.5 percent and Yale’s by 8.5 percent. Brown had an especially large growth of 21 percent, surpassing Princeton by about 3,000 applicants.
The University’s 2 percent increase in applications is a drop from the increases of previous years. There were 6 percent more applications to the Class of 2012 than to the Class of 2011 and 8 percent more applications to that class than to the Class of 2010.
Rapelye said she could not “predict or define the trends” that led to the smaller-than-usual applicant increase but suggested that it might be due, in part, to a “plateau” in the growth of the high school population.
“The challenge is always to understand why students make the choices they do,” Rapelye said, adding that there is no data to explain the number of applicants to each college and that many other small private colleges are seeing their application numbers decline.
The growth in Princeton’s applicant pool is still impressive, Rapelye said, noting that Princeton has seen application numbers jump from around 13,000 to almost 22,000 in the past six years.
The number of applicants applying for financial aid increased to 75 percent, up from 70 percent last year. Rapelye attributed this rise to the current economic recession and to a greater awareness of the University’s aid policy. Rapelye called this increase “good news,” explaining that the Office of Admission had been concerned that the high initial room and board figures would deter potential applicants. To mitigate the effects of those figures, Rapelye’s office emphasized the University’s policy of no-loan financial aid when recruiting, she added.
The University also expanded its recruiting efforts this year, adding a trip to Texas to the trips it takes with Harvard and the University of Virginia.
This expansion was reflected in the applicant pool, Rapelye said. There were increases in applicants from nearly every geographic area, but the number of applicants from Florida to Texas was especially large this year.
The University will go ahead with its long-standing plan to increase next year’s freshman class size to 1,300, but Rapelye said it was currently impossible to determine how this expansion would affect the number of applicants accepted regularly and from the waitlist.
The admission rate was “fairly conservative” for the Class of 2012, Rapelye said, adding that the University did not want to over-enroll students. The University accepted 148 students from last year’s waitlist.
Rapelye also announced that, starting with applicants to the Class of 2015, the University will allow students to select which SAT scores they submit with their applications this year. The news follows an announcement by the College Board of their new Score Choice policy, which does not require students to submit all SAT and SAT II scores.The University joins Harvard, the University of Chicago and MIT in allowing students to choose which scores they submit, while Stanford, Penn and Cornell reject the policy and require applicants to submit all scores.
“Scores are one part of [the admission process], but not the only part,” Rapelye said of the decision, adding that she hoped applicants would send all scores or as many as possible. “The goal is to encourage students to send their best work,” she explained.
Graduate School admissions
Applications to the Graduate School rose to 10,144, representing a 10 percent increase from last year, said Dean of the Graduate School William Russel. There is also much greater diversity in this year’s applicant pool than in previous ones, Russel said. In the past, the Graduate School has struggled with recruiting minority students. Only 6 percent of incoming graduate students in the last five years were of Latino, Hispanic, African-American or American-Indian background.
This year, there were 14 percent more African-American applicants and 10 percent more Hispanic applicants than last year. Russel attributed these increases to the Graduate School’s “comprehensive and aggressive recruitment program targeting historically underrepresented groups.”
The gender ratio of graduate school applicants did not change — 63 percent male and 37 percent female but applications from women to science and engineering programs rose 9 percent from last year, Russel said. International applications remained stable at 45 percent.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that applicants to the Class of 2013 had the option of selecting which SAT scores they could send to the University. In fact, the first group of students affected by the College Board's new SAT Score Choice policy will be those who will apply to the Class of 2015.