Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty, Vanderbilt Regular Decision Acceptance Rate Rises to 9%


Drew Perez, Online Director & Senior Editor

Vanderbilt admitted 9 percent of Regular Decision applicants to join the Class of 2024, according to a blog post on the university’s Undergraduate Admissions site.

The university received 32,376 applications, just shy of the Class of 2023’s record-breaking Regular Decision pool that included 32,976 high school applicants.

Despite the drop in selectivity, the newly accepted students boast the highest-ever ACT scores in the Regular Decision round, with the middle 50% scoring 34-36. The middle 50% of SAT reading/writing and math scores for the class are 740-780 and 770-800, respectively.

Most notably, the university expanded the number of students taken in the Regular Decision round by 39 percent, or more than 800 high school students, compared to the Class of 2023. This significant rise can most likely be attributed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As the coronavirus has reshaped life for students across the nation, colleges have had to redraw their admissions practices to ensure that their enrollment won’t slide in the fall. With no yield events, such as Vanderbilt’s ‘Anchor Days,’ and a shaken global economy, it has become more difficult to project enrollment, financial aid needs, and the effect on international students for the incoming class.

Following suit, five of the seven Ivy League universities that published admissions statistics posted a higher acceptance rate than in 2019, despite previous trends of increasing selectivity.

The uncertainty is exacerbated by rule changes by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) that were voted on last September. After threats of legal action from the Trump administration, NACAC delegates voted to allow colleges to recruit students after May 1, the traditional deadline for students to make their final decision. Colleges can now try to woo students who have already accepted offers elsewhere by increasing their financial aid packages, further complicating enrollment projections.

The pandemic has also caused trouble for future college applicants who are losing out on opportunities like classes, extracurriculars, and standardized tests. Due to coronavirus precautions, the College Board announced that AP exams would be administered online, while International Baccalaureate (IB) canceled theirs entirely. In the wake of the unprecedented situation, universities like Vanderbilt have reiterated their commitment to providing a holistic review of affected students.

As admitted students grapple with committing to a college without visiting, the university continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak on all fronts. Commencement has been postponed until May 2021, and the university is weighing housing and dining financial adjustments for students.

The Vanderbilt Office of Undergraduate Admissions has not responded to a request for comment.