Today, compounding the stress of nervous high school seniors across the hemispheres, our Office of Undergraduate Admissions released preliminary numbers for the regular decision pool. The stats showed an overall drop in applications from last year, which they attributed both to a normalizing effect from Columbia’s switch to the Common App in 2010, and also to the recently reintroduced early action plans at Harvard and Princeton. Despite the less impressive numbers, the applicant pool was described, as it is every year, as the most academically competitive yet. Hooray! The potential class of 2016 also demonstrated itself to be exceedingly sensitive and loveable by excelling in categories like “diversity of experience” and “voice.” The breakdown is as follows:

  • 31,818 applications for a class of 1,391 students
  • Anticipated to be one of the larger applicant pools in the Ivy League
  • Applications were down 8.9% from last years numbers, but,
  • There has been a 21.5% overall increase in applications since 2010

Official Press Statement 
Columbia University Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Class of 2016 Application Numbers

January 18, 2012

Statement from Jessica Marinaccio, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Columbia University

Columbia University has received 31,818 applications for our first-year class of 1,391 students, the second-largest applicant pool in our history. After an unprecedented 33.4 percent increase in applications last year, our first year utilizing the Common Application, applications this year decreased by 8.9 percent, bringing us to an overall two-year increase of 21.5 percent since 2010.

Columbia chose to implement the Common Application last year to help reduce the stress associated with the college application process and to make the process more accessible to all prospective students. Given the increased accessibility associated with the Common Application, schools initially accepting it have typically seen a two-year increase in application volume of 10 to 25 percent. Our application numbers this year appear to be normalizing to a size consistent with this trend and at a level that continues to indicate strong student interest. Harvard and Princeton’s return to a Single Choice Early Action policy also likely influenced our application volume given our high overlap with those schools. We anticipate that this year’s pool of almost 32,000 students will be one of the larger applicant pools amongst our Ivy peers.

More importantly, early indications show that the applicant pool is the most academically competitive in Columbia’s history. It also continues to represent the diversity of experience, background and voice that we so value at levels equal to or above that of previous pools. Columbia has seen increases in application volume in past years and has become increasingly selective as a result. This, however, has never been our primary goal. We strive to reach out to students to create an applicant pool that represents our diverse, creative and inquisitive student body and that contains students who would likely be competitive in our highly-selective admissions process. We are confident that this year’s applicant pool meets these aspirations, and we look forward to continuing our selection of the Class of 2016.


Katherine Cutler