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If low acceptance rates discourage applicants, hiding the data only makes it worse

<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Last week, Princeton accepted a number of early action applicants to the Class of 2026. You may be wondering: how many? But we don’t know and may never find out. 

The University opted against releasing its usual detailed application and acceptance numbers for early admissions. In fact, the University announced on Dec. 16 that it won’t release any data during the Regular Decision or transfer admissions cycles either. Instead, the Office of Admission explained that it will release information “that focuses on enrolled students” later next year.

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According to the announcement, the change was due to concerns that publishing data about admitted students “may have an unintended impact on prospective students and families.” Such data, the Office of Admission explained, “raises the anxiety level of prospective students and their families and, unfortunately, may discourage some prospective students from applying.”

While this board understands that this may be the case, withholding data only worsens the problem.

Yes, Princeton’s admission rate has in recent years been abysmally low, and yet a 1-in-20 chance is not nothing. Withholding data sends an even more discouraging message than low acceptance rates. It tells applicants: “Our admissions rate is so low, we’re afraid to even tell you.”

While releasing announcements that celebrate low acceptance rates throughout the year may unnecessarily glorify exclusivity, the answer is not to reduce transparency. 

Last year, Cornell also announced it would not report acceptance metrics during the admissions process for similar reasons. Instead, it now releases an annual report each fall detailing the process and outlining how many students applied, were admitted, and eventually enrolled from each cycle. 

Cornell’s report includes data on student demographics, such as race, gender, legacy status, standardized test scores, and class rank. This information can be useful for prospective students to know how their applications might fare when compared to their future peers. 

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Even more importantly, the demographic data renders Cornell accountable for its admissions process in a way that can only be done by pointing to the numbers. In order to check if the administration is making progress on building a more diverse student body, we need accessible information to demonstrate progress towards equitable admissions.  

As of now, the University has released no additional information on what will be published in its enrolled-student-focused announcement next year. We can only hope that the University — like Cornell — will include in its announcement the demographics and statistics that it has presently chosen to omit. 

Sweeping admissions data into a black box only serves to raise applicant anxieties and close off avenues of accountability. 

145th Editorial Board

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Chair

Zachariah Sippy ’23

Members

Shannon Chaffers ’22

Won-Jae Chang ’24

Harsimran Makkad ’22

AG McGee ’22

Zachary Shevin ’22


Kris Grant ’24 and Mollika Singh ’24 dissented from this editorial. Their response can be found here.

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