Colleges start to unveil fall 2022 acceptance rates amid big application spikes

Several institutions also reveal how well they've done in meeting diversity targets in admissions pools.
By: | March 31, 2022
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While some institutions of higher education are forgoing the annual rite of passage of publishing their acceptance rates, a few already have proudly released their low, low percentages.

Tufts University outside of Boston is reporting that it has granted acceptances to just 9% of its nearly 35,000 applicants, the lowest since it began tracking the data. The highly selective institution also said letters went out to its most diverse group of prospective students—more than 50% of those who were interested.

“We are thrilled that more students from more diverse backgrounds see themselves thriving at Tufts,” Dean of Admissions J.T. Duck said in a statement. “Given last year’s strong positive response to our offers of admission, we have made slightly fewer offers this year and hope to be able to admit some outstanding students from our wait list in May.”

Tufts officials say applications not only have skyrocketed by 50% since 2020 but that the number of Black students applying has jumped by nearly 90% since 2019. It is one of 48 institutions nationwide—including Yale, Penn, Duke, Stanford, Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton and the University of Chicago—to be partnered with nonprofit Quest Bridge to help some of the best and brightest low-income students gain access to top colleges and universities.

Rice University in Texas is another Quest Bridge partner that revealed its strong acceptance rate – just 8.56% from more than 31,000 applications—with the inclusion of one of its most diverse pools. Even though it is more heavily scrutinizing its pool of applicants, it is accepting more of them overall in a plan to boost enrollment over the next three years.

Admissions teams across the U.S. have made diversity a top priority in the process. Nearly every institution releasing data on applications has touted its work in being more open, more transparent and more intentional in their work in 2022. Some elite institutions are clearly trying to let students know they are accepting of all students who apply by not revealing how selective they are.

“We have in recent years stopped reporting the annual admission rate, as well as the admission rate by SAT score range and average GPA,” Princeton University admissions officials wrote in a recent letter to interested students. “We have now made the decision not to release admission data during the early action, regular decision and transfer admission cycles. Instead, we will publish an announcement later in 2022 that focuses on the enrolled students who will join Princeton as the Class of 2026.”

Last year, Princeton had the third-lowest acceptance rate in the nation at 3.98%, trailing only Harvard (3.43%) and Stanford (3.6%). Harvard saw more than 57,000 applications last year, including 10,000 applying for early decision. The private university with one of the highest application numbers in the nation last year and again this year is New York University, increasing by 5% to 105,000. A little more than 12% have been given letters of acceptance, and many of its individual schools show much lower rates, including its College of Nursing at 3%. But NYU’s pool is also one of the most diverse, with nearly two-thirds being U.S.-born students of color and more than 100 nations represented among the others. NYU officials say about one-fifth will be first-generation and/or will be Pell Grant-eligible.

“Even with the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, this group inspires us, coming from a wide range of interests, passions, and backgrounds to make up one of the most diverse applicant pools in NYU history,” said Jonathan Williams, Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Admissions. “With all the turmoil in the world and reasons to be pessimistic about our future, these future leaders and changemakers inspire us to remain hopeful.”


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NYU is one of more than 1,600 institutions promoting that it remains test-optional, one of the barriers that prior to the pandemic has prevented lower-income and underrepresented students from applying and driving enrollments down across higher education around 3%. Cal Poly Pomona has seen its applications soar to nearly 50,000 this year because of many factors, including those scores not being considered. “Dropping the SAT also likely had an impact since the elimination of the SAT means that more students feel like they have a chance of being admitted,” Director of Admissions Brandon Tuck said in a statement.

The University of Michigan hasn’t released the final tally on acceptances yet as some determinations are being made over the next few weeks, but it has seen a 6% jump in applicants. Most notably there is an 8% increase in those from students of color and 17% from first-generation students. Though not a member of the Quest Bridge program, it is a part of the American Talent Initiative, which serves more than 125 institutions in helping increase access to students from underserved communities. Another institution seeing record interest from first-gen students and students of color is Temple University. Nearly 25% of its pool of 38,000 applicants are first-gen, and Black and Latinx student interest have jumped by 12% and 7%, respectively, according to officials.

Others that have revealed their acceptance rate include MIT (3.96%), Northwestern University (7%), Barnard College (8%, a record), Davidson University (16.8%) and the University of Virginia (19%, a record).