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.