By Desiree Annunziato
Issue date: 4/11/08
The acceptance rate for the class of 2011 is the lowest rate Lehigh has ever had, according to admissions personnel.
The admissions rate for a first-year class is generally more than 30 percent, but this year increased competition lead to a 27 percent admissions rate, said Dean of Admissions J. Leon Washington.
12,959 applications were received and only 2,900 students were accepted. The target class size is 1,160 students, Washington said.
The admissions rate has been decreasing over the last five years, but this year's rate is the lowest.
Besides the increase in applications, Washington attributed the decreasing admissions rate to the competition among top-tier schools.
"When schools in the top-tier are more competitive, there is a rippling effect," Washington said. "When students are applying to other places as well and they do not get in, they become the 'cream of the crop' at Lehigh."
Washington said the overall quality of applicants has increased tremendously in terms of GPAs, class rank, difficulty of classes in high school, and SAT and ACT averages.
"This was our most selective year," he said.
Harvard and Yale universities also had their lowest admissions rate ever. Harvard accepted 7.1 percent of applicants, with 1,948 students admitted out of 27,462 applicants. Yale accepted 8.3 percent of applicants, with 1,892 students accepted out of 22,813 applicants.
Washington said standards for acceptance are certainly rising.
"We are not intentionally tightening this up," he said, "but it is the result of fierce competition and an increase in quality."
Washington said he does not believe the recently announced financial aid changes yielded the increased number of applicants because the applications had already been received when the plan was announced.
"[The increased number of applicants] has more to do with the university and admissions being strategic in their message, the recruitment efforts, the success of current students, potential students hearing more about Lehigh, the business school consistently being in the top 25, and the accounting program now being number one," he said.
Washington said current students really love Lehigh, and they make this known to visiting students.
"Even if students did not start out that way but stayed, they can say why they stayed and why they like it here," he said.
Lehigh is also receiving more attention recently for its business and liberal arts programs, instead of just the engineering college, Washington said, and that may have contributed to the high level of applicants.
The location of Lehigh is also appealing because it is not far from cities like Philadelphia and New York City, Washington said. Also, the success of students with internships and jobs makes Lehigh very appealing, he said.
"I hope this trend continues," Washington said. "It is such a beautiful campus and when visitors walk around, they get a sense of wow."
Julia Morris, '12, said she applied to Dickinson College, and used Fairfield University and the University of Delaware as safety schools, but chose Lehigh after being accepted as an early decision candidate.
"The application process was monotonous," she said. "Yet searching for the perfect college seemed more fun than rigorous."
Stephanie Lam, '12, had a similar experience applying.
"For most of the fall, I really did not go out much because I had to finish applications along with juggling classes, sports, and work," she said.