The “Wesleyan University Class of 2014” Facebook group is abuzz with excitement, and this year’s members have reason to be thrilled—admission for the Class of 2014 was the most selective it has been in the University’s history. Out of 10,656 applicants, the University admitted 2,125, translating to a 20 percent admission rate. In contrast, the rate two years ago was 27 percent. The University hopes to enroll 745 students.

Despite the increase in applicants—588 more than the Class of 2013 and 2,406 more than the Class of 2012—the criteria used for admission have not changed, according to Senior Associate Dean of Admission Gregory Pyke.

“We’ve continued to look for what we always have—evidence of real curiosity, students who enjoy the learning process, and students who will make a real contribution to the Wesleyan community,” he said. “The value of having a bigger applicant pool is that there’s more depth to be selective . . . in the criteria that matters to the school.”

Increased selectivity for the Class of 2014 resulted in an uptick of median SAT scores. The verbal, math, and writing components of the SAT each reached 730 this year, up from 730, 720, and 720, respectively, for the Class of 2013. The median ACT score remained the same, at 32.

The ratio of admitted men to women remained steady this year at 46 percent to 54 percent, as did the students coming from public high schools, which stayed at 56 percent. The geographic diversity of the admits includes 468 students from the West, 432 students from the New York Region, and 186 students from the South, slightly more diverse than last year’s. International students comprise 11 percent of admitted students, or 225 students, a three percent increase over the Class of 2013. Students of co lor make up 36 percent of the admits.

The University’s partnership with Questbridge—a non-profit program that matches high achieving, low-income students with 27 partner universities that provide full four-year scholarships—is in its second year, with 13 students matched to Wesleyan. Of these students, four are men and nine are women, 11 are students of color, 11 are from public high schools, and 8 of the 13 are from outside the New York-New England area.

Selecting the class this year was a more demanding process because, as Pyke explained, he found himself reading application after application and thinking, “great student, obvious admit.”

“Do that three or four times and you realize that you’re admitting at 100 percent, when you should be admitting students at a rate of 20 percent,” he said.

According to Pyke, this dilemma prompted the deans to shrink the admitted pool of Regular Decision students after they had gone through all of the applications, which moved some students who had initially been on the acceptance list to the waitlist. There were fewer spots available through Regular Decision this year, as the University admitted more students during Early Decision (ED)—48 percent of next year’s incoming class, or 358 students, will be ED applicants. In past years, ED applicants have made up about 40 percent of each class.

“With the number of Early Decision applications going up last year and this year, it’s unfortunate to penalize students for wanting to be at Wesleyan so much that they’re willing to forgo all the other schools that could have accepted them,” Pyke said. “If the Early Decision pool is bigger and it’s as good as or better than last year, that should drive up the number of Early Decision matriculates.”

Financial concerns also factored into the University’s decision to accept more students ED this year.

“With the uncertainty created by the economy and applicants who are applying to other famous schools, it’s better to have more [of the class] put to bed,” Pyke said.

Now that the incoming class has largely been determined, it’s in the hands of the students to decide 2014’s final composition.

“They have great potential to add to the Wesleyan community in so many and varied ways—smart, curious, interested and interesting,” Nancy Meislahn, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.

  • Strunk N. White

    “the criteria… has not changed”????

  • David

    You can’t conclude from the data that Wesleyan is more selective. All you know is that the admission to application rate is lower. To conclude that Wesleyan is “more selective” you need data regarding the quality of the increased applicant pool. If the trend to more multiple applications by high school students simply results in a boatload of lower quality applicants, selectivity is unchanged.

    Think and analize, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t just rewrite the press releases.

  • David

    Here is the data from Williams for 2008-09:

    Applicants: 7,552
    Admitted: 1,281
    Acceptance rate: 17.0%
    Yield rate: 42.1%

    What can you conclude about the relative selectivity of Wesleyan and Williams from this data? Isn’t that a more relevant story?

  • To David


  • johnwesley

    I’d say the trend is not very good for Williams.
    Here is the data from Williams for 2009-10:

    Applicants: 6,633
    Admitted: 1202
    Acceptance rate: 18.12%

  • johnwesley

    Trend? One year is not a trend. These numbers fluctuate up and down from year to year. When they move the direction the school wants them to, they say it’s because of how great the school is. When they move the other way, they say it’s because of randomness.

    As David rightly points out, all of this depends on the *quality* of the applicant. Shall we bet on whether Wesleyan or Williams has better applicants?

    Finally, Wesleyan admitted 48% of its incoming class from Early Decision. That is very unusual. It would be interesting to see how the EDs and regular admits compare–and there’s no way Admission would ever provide that data.

  • David Lott, ’65

    “I’d say the trend is not very good for Williams.
    Here is the data from Williams for 2009-10:

    Applicants: 6,633
    Admitted: 1202
    Acceptance rate: 18.12%”

    Proves nothing. Why are applicants down? If it’s because lower quality applicants have stopped applying because of poor chance of admission, selectivity has not changed.

    My whole point is that acceptance rate, in itself, is a misleading statistic.

    I think Williams looks better than Wesleyan because their yield rate is so much better. But even that would be incorrect if they are admitting lower quality applicants than Wesleyan. (doubtful) Then the accepts would be more likely to go to Williams.

    For Wesleyan, the least happy statistic is the low yield in relation to its competitors.

    Now all of this is pretty much a game. But if Wesleyan wants to tout its numbers, the Argus might break from its usual approach and go beyond the press release.

  • David Lott, ’65

    “anal(y)ze”–Yeah, I’m pretty much lost on that word without spell check. Never could get it right.

  • Ambivalent Alum ’08

    No, in my opinion, Wesleyan has gone down in quality.

    When I was applying to colleges in the fall of 2003, I remember all of the schools that I have chosen over Wesleyan to have all higher admissions rate (UChicago: 50%, Cornell: 30%; Grinnell: 40%).

    Now fast-forward to 2010, I checked the admissions rates of these schools and all of them according to NYTimes have either fallen below 20% or in Grinell’s case, fallen relatively higher than Wesleyan’s.

    I think the reason being that Wesleyan can’t offer a very competitive financial package anymore to candidates; and as a result, have to have a higher acceptance rate in lieu of a lower yield rate.

    And oh, I remember for class of ’07, the yield rate was somewhere around 40%. This stat is conveniently erased by the annual stat sheet prepared by the admissions office, probably because it has fallen over the years due to the decline of Wes’ finances.

  • johnwesley

    It’s true that that Wesleyan was slow to leap on the loan-free financial aid bandwagon a few years back; you almost have to be in the bottom 11% of families earning wages in order to qualify. OTOH, so far at least, it hasn’t had to announce embarassing cut-backs in financial aid the way Williams and Dartmouth have had to.

    And, Ambivalent, if your point is that Cornell, Chicago and Grinnell have also experienced increases in selectivity over the past decade, I would join with you in the celebration. No one is arguing that Wesleyan is alone among elite colleges in experiencing this phenomenon.

  • johnwesley

    And, oh. Just in case, it isn’t clear: there is no yield rate until you actually hear from the accepted applicants. Duh.

  • David Lott, ’65

    I seriously doubt that U Chicago was at 50% accept rate any time recently. Very competitive.

    I also doubt that Wes had a 40% yield rate as recently as 2007.

  • Something doesn’t smell right about these numbers.

  • Jesse Ross-Silverman ’13

    “it hasn’t had to announce embarassing cut-backs in financial aid the way Williams and Dartmouth have had to.”

    Let’s not forget the administration proposed reversing the need-blind admissions policy for transfers.

  • publius

    Lott: Chicago always has a high admissions rate because it’s pool is very self-selecting

    -: you’re a lunatic

    Ross-Silverman: fair ’nuff, but in the end they didn’t go through with it

  • David Lott, ’65

    Publius: U Chicago Admissions rate 2010 = 18%.

    So much for self selection.

  • Monroe

    Im confused…Since when does denying an education to even more worthy students make you better? Our system is backwards, educational institutions (& their alumni) should pride themselves on how many students they provide a world class education to….not how many they deny one to.

  • WOW!

    If the overall projected yield rate is under 35%, and 48% of the class was filled through binding ED (98% yield rate), then Wes is doing a depressingly poor job of attracting cross admits from other schools. No wonder we are relying on as high a percentage of “captive” ED admits as any school in America!

  • ED

    I didnt get ED until I came to Wesleyan

  • WOW!

    2125 total admits, of whom 358 were ED admits, means that the class of 745 will be made up of 358 ED matriculants and 387 RD matriculants.

    Since those 387 RD matriculants will have come from 1,738 RD admits. that means the RD (or “open market”) yield rate will be about 22%.

    And this without taking into account that:

    (1) those RD matriculants include 13 of the 100%-yield Questbridge applicants (who must attend if admitted); and

    (2) There may be more people admitted from the waitlist.

  • johnwesley

    wow – if, just for argument’s sake, half your cross-admits are all with the same nationally recognized research universities (let’s say, Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Columbia — just for arguments sake) then, yes your yield is going to suffer in relation to colleges that compete mostly against other lesser known (but, EXCELLENT) liberal arts colleges.