16 Apr Class of 2024: College Admissions Stats So Far!

Class of 2024 college admissions statistics were released during the first week of April and we want to give you our best analysis for what all those tables and numbers mean (but if you’d like to see these tables and numbers for yourself, you can check them out HERE).

DISCLAIMER: Given that Ivy League institutions tend to set the trend for what the college admissions landscape will look like that year, much of our analysis is based on the behaviour of their admissions statistics as well as other high ranking schools such as MIT and Stanford.

In general, admissions rates for the Class of 2024 have shown a slight increase – but that may be just because the admissions rates for the Class of 2023 were particularly low. For example, Harvard’s 4.9% acceptance rate for this year is definitely higher than their record low of 4.5% last year. That difference might not sound like much but when you consider that in 2019, Harvard received about 43,330 applications, that’s a student body difference of about 173 students (if the number of applicants remained the same in 2020).  The number of students that applied to Harvard in 2020 (40,248) actually decreased from that of 2019 – possibly due to that record low acceptance rate – and so the actual number of students admitted remained roughly the same.

But this wasn’t only seen in Harvard’s stats. Columbia showed a 6.1% acceptance rate this year, in comparison to last year’s 5.1%. Similar trends were seen with Brown, Dartmouth, UPenn and Yale. The only Ivy outlier was Princeton, which showed a slight decrease in acceptance rate this admissions season, coming from 5.8% in 2019 to 5.6% this year.

A Different Waitlist Game in 2020

At AIM, we try to be as realistic as possible with our students… and the truth is, the chances of getting off of the waitlist are slim. Under normal circumstances, getting off the waitlist is simply based on the number of students that were accepted and declined the offer, which is always incredibly unpredictable. Even then, the waitlist is usually ranked in order of who they want most – that is, if only one accepted student declines an offer, the school already has an idea who that one student to make it off the waitlist will be. But things might be different this year.

It just so happened that right as admissions staff were sealing envelopes and updating virtual admissions portals, the effects of COVID-19 started to rear its head on a global scale. It is predicted then that more students will decline their college offers, whether it be domestic students playing it safe for sake of the accelerated recession or international students who are concerned about health and safety or may struggle to attain visas to travel and study in the U.S. Additionally, there are still concerns that the virus may linger in the fall (Boston University has already announced they are prepared to remain closed until January 2021 if needs be) and travel bans may not even be lifted by then! Ultimately, there may be more students than ever before opting to take a gap year to “wait out” the virus… which means there may be more spaces available for the waitlist to officially enter the Class of 2024.

Bear in mind that COVID-19 may also affect the demographic of the waitlist and the ordering of prioritizing students. It is hypothesized among the college admissions community that although there may be a higher chance of getting off the waitlist than ever before, this may only be the case for domestic students. Colleges may be classifying international students as those more likely to decline acceptance offers simply due to unpredictable travel restrictions. This could make international students less of a priority to make it off of waitlists for this particular admissions cycle.

Early Applications Always Pay Off

Whether you apply Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED), you almost always have a better chance of acceptance than Regular Decision (RD) if you leverage this early round of admissions (this is the case for current and past AIMers). Brown had a 17.5% acceptance rate in the binding ED round and 5.3% for the RD round. There were similar trends across the board, like UPenn’s 19% for ED and 5.9% for RD.

Final Thoughts

Even before COVID-19, it was already clear that application volume was either hitting a plateau this application cycle, or declining. This would indicate an obvious increase in admit rates, but it is also expected that admissions officers would still be conservative given the uncertainty. And they were correct to do so.

Here are some questions that are on our minds here at AIM too:

  • Will more students opt for a gap year to “wait out” the pandemic and enroll in 2021? If they do, will they find increasing difficulty finding meaningful activity during that gap year given self-isolation and an economic recession?
  • Will the effects of COVID-19 on college admissions make next year’s application cycle more competitive?
  • Some institutions are preparing to implement e-learning for the Fall 2020 semester but will students and parents be willing to fork out full tuition for an e-learning experience?
  • What effects will COVID-19 have on the admission rates of international students at large?

We don’t have the answers to these questions right now… it is a waiting game. But what we do know is that college admissions will go on, as education must go on. Throughout all of the madness, one thing is certain, education cannot be greatly affected for it is education that will keep the present safe and healthy and education that will make better decisions for the future.