Lehigh acceptance rate at an all time low


Designed by Anna Simoneau

Lehigh’s acceptance rate has fallen for the third consecutive year.

Interim vice provost Bruce Bunnick said the acceptance rate for the class of 2021 was 24.7, 1.6 percentage points lower than the class of 2020. Bunnick said one factor that influences the acceptance rate is the quality of students that apply to Lehigh. The selectivity increased because of the high number and quality of applicants.

Bunnick said highly-qualified students come from a variety of backgrounds, have a passion for knowledge and display leadership capabilities. Lehigh’s definition of “highly qualified” doesn’t necessarily mean students who have a high GPA or high test scores, but Bunnick said these are considered in the decision-making process.

Jennifer Castro, director of diversity recruitment and Jade Eggleston, the assistant director, said 35 percent to the students accepted for the class of 2021 represent diversity, of which 10 percent are international students and 25 percent are students of color.

“The biggest thing with our programming is all about access,” Eggleston said. “A lot of times, these students don’t have the means to get here and have never heard of Lehigh before.”

Another factor that influences the acceptance rate is the proportion of students who apply for the early decision programs versus regular decision. Bunnick said one of his goals is to attract students with diverse backgrounds who are underrepresented outside of the mid-Atlantic.

Director of international recruitment Morgan Volkart said this is a long-term goal for Lehigh admissions. 

When Volkart looks for prospective international students, she said she wants students who know why they want to be at Lehigh, how they might contribute to the Lehigh community and whether they are willing to take the risk of going to school far away from home. 

There is a focus on personalizing the experience for prospective students through on-road recruiting across the country as well as regional-level programming, Skype interviews with international students, connecting students with alumni and inviting them to Diversity Life weekend. This also applies to first-generation college students and their families who are completely new to the college experience.

Lehigh’s Western Regional Office located in San Mateo, California, was established to attract students from the West Coast and outside the U.S. There continues to be an emphasis on gaining wider geographic representation from students across the U.S.

Some of the strategies Lehigh uses to attract students from foreign areas — who might otherwise not know of Lehigh — are to develop relationships with high school guidance counselors, marketing and connecting prospective students to current students through the LU Diplomats program. Implementing these strategies could make a difference in whether an admitted student decides to attend.

Bunnick said in the fall of 2019, Lehigh’s first-year class will expand by 125 students from 1,235 to 1,360.

The Path to Prominence, a plan to expand and upgrade Lehigh’s campus, will allow the amount of first-year students to increase by 1,000 over a period of seven years. The new College of Health and construction of new dorms will allow for the increase of students.

Bunnick said although more students will be accepted to Lehigh, selectivity will likely remain the same because of an increased amount of students interested in the College of Health programs.

“We’ll have several more thousand applicants in the pool, so we’ll have more students to choose from,” Bunnick said. “We hope that we will be able to diversify our pool so that we can create a campus environment that reflects and mirrors society.”

As for wait-listed students, Bunnick said 66 students were accepted off the waitlist in 2016. The admissions office tracks how many students commit to Lehigh and submit their deposits to determine how many students will be taken off the waitlist. If the numbers are lower than anticipated in the middle to end of April, students will be taken off the waitlist and are given 72 hours to accept.

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  1. The numbers of this sort that Lehigh publishes each year are a dishonest farce.

    Everybody knows that students applying for admission to college routinely apply to several of them because they don’t which ones will actually make them an offer.

    It is common to apply to some that they don’t want, but they do so anyway as a backup in case they are not accepted where they would really like to go. Other considerations such as financial aid offers also affect decisions when there are multiple offers.

    This link produces a PDF summary of the numbers for the Class of 2020.


    The basic words on it are dishonest and misleading.

    It uses the words “Acceptances” and “Admits”. The correct word that should be used is “Offers”.

    The only thing that counts is how many students who were given “Offers” actually accepted them and matriculated to became Lehigh’s class of 2020.

    Looking at those numbers we see 1281 matriculated, from offers to 3905.

    That is a “yield” of almost 36%. The means that 64% of those to whom Lehigh made offers decided to “thumb their nose” at Lehigh and did something else.

    To use an amusing analogy, think of the process as being similar to the dating app Tinder.

    Lehigh was “swiped left” 64% of the time!!!!! Should Lehigh consider that to be a “microaggression”???

    There are more dishonest numbers found on the above summary sheet with regards to SAT scores.
    It talks about a range of scores to whom Lehigh made offers.

    Again, what counts are the score ranges of those who actually matriculated.

    These can be found at this link:


    Once there, click on tab CDS-C and scroll down to the C9 section.

    Here you will see that those who actually matriculated had lower SAT scores than those to whom offers were made.

    The point being that some of those who “thumbed their noses” at Lehigh were better quality students with regards to their SAT scores
    The reality is that Lehigh is NOT a first tier school with regards to the academic caliber of its student body.

    That isn’t necessarily bad. Certainly schools such as Cal Tech and MIT attract a higher caliber of student with better SAT scores and the ability to learn things at a fast pace.

    The average Lehigh student would probably struggle and in many cases flunk out of such schools.

    The wise thing to do when looking at colleges is to pick one where your SAT scores are similar to students who will be your peers. That way the pace of your classes will be in tune with your abilities.

    Lehigh does a disservice to applicants by posting phony scores that are higher than what is going on with its actual student body.

    I think this is shameful.

    • The acceptance rate for a university is based on how many students apply, how many students the university expects to matriculate, and the percent of accepted students who are expected to choose another offer. In other words, the rate at which accepted students choose a school over other offers is already baked into the acceptance rate.

      Think about it: If two schools have the same capacity and receive the same number of applicants, but one is attended by a lower percent of accepted applicants, then the acceptance rates for that school must necessarily be higher in order to balance the equation.

      There’s nothing dishonest about using admission rate as a primary metric for selectivity, which is exactly why it is a universal standard.

      “Lehigh was ‘swiped left’ 64% of the time!!!!! Should Lehigh consider that to be a ‘microaggression’???”

      Trust me when I say that this line doesn’t come off nearly as clever or edgy as you imagine…

      • And if that math is too complicated for you, don’t worry; I’m sure someone from Lehigh can help understand 🙂

  2. Adele McDermott on

    I really don’t see where your outrage comes from. All schools report admit numbers instead of attending numbers, which gives next year’s applicants a basis for their applications. I think Lehigh is very forthright with the numbers they publish, you would never get Harvard’s legacy admit numbers nor their waitlist numbers in a publicly available publication. And, it stands to reason that the higher caliber students would choose the highest caliber school they got into. All students apply (or should apply) to reach schools, schools in their range and safety schools, that mix is different for everyone. I take offense to what you said about students flunking out of “higher caliber schools”, my daughter goes to MIT and my son will be attending Lehigh and I don’t think one is truly smarter than the other.

  3. DE Clayton, I find this quite offensive. You have no right to judge the Lehigh student body and it is obvious that you do not understand the world of college admissions in the slightest. Please do not waste your time bashing a truly amazing place to go to school, one with a top notch student body full of brilliant thinkers, researchers, and innovators. Lehigh’s students are diverse, creative, and unique. The “average” Lehigh student may not have the test scores to get into Stanford, but what do SAT scores say about a person other than their test taking ability? As you probably don’t know, many schools, including some of those “top tier” ones mentioned, are making tests optional for college applicants. Wake Forest, Bates, Bowdoin… some of the very best in the country, are looking at students based on their whole package, not just some numbers that generate from filling in bubbles. So much more goes into this process than you are eluding to and it’s a shame that though you are so naive, you are trying to bring down Lehigh.

  4. Seriously dude, don't be a jerk on

    D E Clayton “The numbers of this sort that Lehigh publishes each year are a dishonest farce.”

    Lehigh is very open, and provides better information transparency than most schools. You assert that Lehigh is dishonest, but fail to point out any dishonesty.

    The words Acceptances and Admits are standard industry terms. The only schools that might have the power to shift the industry to your preferred term would be the 8 Ivies as a group. If they all agreed to change the term, I suspect others would follow. Blaming Lehigh for this is pointless. Go post that on Harvard’s website.

    D E Clayton “There are more dishonest numbers found on the above summary sheet with regards to SAT scores.
    It talks about a range of scores to whom Lehigh made offers.

    Again, what counts are the score ranges of those who actually matriculated.”

    Again, you are misguided. Both data on admitted students and enrolled students are useful. For example, If you are considering applying, and are trying to understand your chances of admission, the admitted student data is more useful. Nothing about this data is dishonest. Do you know what dishonest means?

    D E Clayton “Here you will see that those who actually matriculated had lower SAT scores than those to whom offers were made.”

    That is true for every school in the country. Nothing about it is unique to Lehigh.

    D E Clayton “The reality is that Lehigh is NOT a first tier school with regards to the academic caliber of its student body. That isn’t necessarily bad. Certainly schools such as Cal Tech and MIT attract a higher caliber of student”

    Lehigh has excellent students. True, it isn’t Cal Tech or MIT, but I don’t remember anyone trying to pretend it is, or even to aspire to be. We are happy being Lehigh. You claim it is not a “First Tier” school, but you do not define that term, so it is impossible for anyone to comment on the accuracy of the statement. If the first tier is Cal Tech and MIT, then I for one, would be proud to be in tier two.

    D E Clayton “Lehigh does a disservice to applicants by posting phony scores that are higher than what is going on with its actual student body.”

    Again, how would Lehigh release the enrolled data instead of admitted student data? Enrolled student data does not exist yet. Every college is releasing the same data Lehigh is. There is nothing phony about it.

    I don’t know why you are so angry at Lehigh. If you did not get accepted, I am sorry to hear that, but you have to understand that it is not personal. Every school has to make difficult decisions with limited information. Lehigh is an outstanding institution with an excellent President who is surrounded by an excellent team of administrators, faculty, staff and students.

    The truth is that Lehigh is very honest about student data, and more transparent than most schools. Alumni, students, parents, and employees appreciate that.

  5. I find the responses from the several of you who took issue with my comment to be interesting.

    Clearly some of you missed the points I attempted to make.

    The first point being the semantics of the words Lehigh uses. I simply suggested that word “Offers” be used to minimize ambiguity.

    The more important point I tried to make, and clearly Adele McDermott understood it and agrees with it, is that the wise thing to do when selecting a college is to pick one where your abilities will match those who will be your peers.

    Doing so avoids the problem of “mismatch”. This is a very real problem. Especially with regards to double standards in admissions policies.

    Thomas Sowell, a brilliant academic and Hoover Institution fellow discusses the problem in this link:


    I’ve excerpted the following from his essay:

    The human tragedy, amid all the legal evasions and frauds is that, while many laws and policies sacrifice some people for the sake of other people, affirmative action manages to harm blacks, whites, Asians and others, even if in different ways.

    Students who are kept out of a college because other students are admitted instead, under racial quotas, obviously lose opportunities they would otherwise have had.

    But minority students admitted to institutions whose academic standards they do not meet are all too often needlessly turned into failures, even when they have the prerequisites for success in some other institution whose normal standards they do meet.

    When black students who scored at the 90th percentile in math were admitted to M.I.T., where the other students scored at the 99th percentile, a significant number of black students failed to graduate there, even though they could have graduated with honors at most other academic institutions.

    We do not have so many students with that kind of ability that we can afford to sacrifice them on the altar to political correctness.

    Such negative consequences of mismatching minority students with institutions, for the sake of racial body count, have been documented in a number of studies, most notably “Mismatch,” a book by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., whose sub-title is: “How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.”

    One of the measure of success in academe is the six-year graduation rate. This website provides access to such data with details broken down by both gender and race:


    The most recent data available on this website is for 2014. Thus it is for the 2008-2014 timeframe.
    Lehigh has a rather appalling track record with regards to the graduation success rates between whites and various “under represented” minorities.

    For example, the rate was 90% for whites and 72.7% for blacks. A gap of -17.3%.

    I do not know why blacks have failed to graduate from Lehigh with such a large percentage difference.

    Blacks are doing just fine at peer institutions such as Brown and Rice.

    Without seeing Lehigh’s data on such things as the SAT scores (which I know Lehigh will never release) it is difficult to analyze the problem and figure out how to improve things.

    My observation over many years is that the cabal that is running Lehigh is dominated by a bunch of “White Guilt” obsessed virtucrats who preen themselves into thinking they are morally superior visionaries rather than being hypocritical phonies who have in reality hurt the very people they pretend to help.

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