Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Stanford, and Yale were among the schools that had their lowest admit rate on record this year.
Yale admitted 1,892 of its 22,813 applicants—a rate of 8.3 percent, down from 9.5 percent for the class of 2011.
Columbia College admitted 8.7 percent, Stanford University 9.5 percent, and Dartmouth College 13.2 percent.
The change was not confined to Ivy League schools and Stanford. Other elite universities faced challenging admissions decisions too.
While Bowdoin College’s admit rate of 18.4 percent was nearly identical to last year’s, Dean of Admissions William M. Shain said applicants for the class of 2012 demonstrated “more powerful” qualifications overall than in years past.
“It’s definitely the most competitive of the 25 years we have data for,” he said.
Shain suggested that recent trends in higher education like refurbished financial aid packages have made it more difficult to predict yields.
“There could be quite a lot of waitlist action because so many schools are doing things differently than in the past,” he said. “No one knows what kind of impact that will have.”
Expansions in financial aid may have played a role in the record number of applicants at Dartmouth, which saw a two percent decrease in its admissions rate this year.
“We attribute a lot of the rise to the fact that Dartmouth recently rolled out a very ambitious and dramatic change of its financial aid package,” public relations officer Genevieve Haas said.
Haas cited the switch from student loans to grants and the elimination of tuition for families with annual incomes below $75,000 as a reason for the jump in applications.
She also noted that Dartmouth also switched to need-blind admissions for international students.
Likewise, Stanford hopes new financial measures “should enable [the university] to attract an even more socio-economically diverse freshman class,” said Dean of Admissions Richard H. Shaw in a press release last week.
—Staff writer Alexandra Perloff-Giles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.