Lehigh acceptance rate hits historic low


The members of the class of 2022 haven’t arrived on campus yet, but they’ve already overcame a significant challenge: they were accepted to Lehigh with a 22 percent acceptance rate, a new record low in university history.

Out of the 15,623 students who applied for a spot in the class of 2022, 3,418 were selected from the Early Decision I, Early Decision II and regular decision applicant pools. 

Bruce Bunnick, the interim vice provost of admissions and financial aid, said this year’s total applicant pool was 12.6 percent larger than last year’s, which consisted of 13,871 students. Bunnick said Lehigh received more applicants this year than ever before, and he largely attributes this increase to expanded outreach efforts in the United States — specifically in California — and abroad.

“At the end of the day we’re trying to attract students who will be a good fit for Lehigh,” Bunnick said. “We’re trying to diversify the campus and (globalize) the campus.”

Lehigh’s Western Regional Office has helped attract prospective students, and Bunnick said the opportunity to engage with undergraduates, faculty and alumni also encourages students to apply.

As Lehigh’s application becomes more competitive, the university is also becoming more expensive.

Tuition for the 2018-19 academic year has increased by 4.3 percent, bringing the total cost of attendance to a record high of $66,730.

Patricia A. Johnson, the vice provost for finance and administration, said additional costs will go toward merit increases for faculty, the costs of signing on new faculty, financial aid increases, and utilities and services such as snow removal.

Johnson said Lehigh’s increased cost of attendance aligns with nationwide trends and won’t deter future applicants from applying, as long as Lehigh is able to offer need-based and merit-based financial aid.

“We want more money and more gifts to be able to put in the endowment, so we are able to provide this aid,” Johnson said.

As Lehigh becomes more costly and competitive, its “work hard, play hard” reputation persists. However, the university placed ninth on The Princeton Review’s list of party schools for 2018, in comparison to its fourth place position in 2016 and 2017.

Bunnick doesn’t believe this change will have much of an impact on applicants.

“The one part that I can cite easily is that we’ve been on that list in some way, shape or form for some years now,” Bunnick said. “It hasn’t deterred students.”

Hank Portney, ’21, did not consider Lehigh’s party rankings when he applied last year.

Portney is curious to see how rankings and campus expansion might affect the demographics of students who attend Lehigh.

“Given that Lehigh is really pushing with the Path to Prominence, it could be interesting to see if Lehigh is leaning towards more of (an) academically focused school and less of a socially focused school,” Portney said.

While Portney is just beginning his time at Lehigh, Juan Shiraishi, ’18, is enjoying his fourth year in Bethlehem. He said he hasn’t noticed a substantial difference on campus over the years, despite the school’s drop in party rankings.

Before coming to Lehigh in 2014, Shiraishi had little knowledge of the university’s party school reputation.

“I don’t think the impact will be huge,” Shiraishi said. “People who know Lehigh know it’s a really good academic institution across the board.”

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  1. Disgusted Alumnus on

    Here we go again with the same misleading language and irrelevant arguments that appeared a year ago.



    The comical thing about the article from last year accessible in the above link is that it has recently degenerated in the comments section into a lively spat between the commenters as to whether Lehigh is a “top flight school” an “utterly worthless” institution that has strayed from its mission.

    I note that one of the commenters who appears to be using a pseudonym of Michael Mimmers is obviously in the “worthless” camp where he says:

    “. . . Lehigh was great when it pulled professors that TEACH from the top tier (they don’t anymore), had a top flight globally recognized engineering program (not even top 30 program anymore), and had a culture where the building of lifelong networks was encouraged instead of sitting around pounding the liberal mantra of race, gender, and social equality.

    Newsflash: The real world where jobs are acquired, taxes are paid, career networks are built, and capitalism and democracy takes place DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE NONSENSE BEING TAUGHT AT LIBERAL SILOS RUN BY CAREER ACADEMICS.”

    I note that disgraced James Braxton Peterson is no longer at Lehigh, and Dean Donald Hall will soon be gone. So there is a glimmer of hope that Lehigh may improve a bit.

    Although I’m informed by astute observers who are intimately familiar with the College of Arts and Sciences that it is an irredeemable “lost cause”.

    Recently I heard from some Lehigh alumni that they will NEVER donate to Lehigh’s general fund because of utter nonsense such as:


    They do not want to see their donation monies squandered on such preposterous foolishness.

    • Keep Your Money and Your Comments on

      Degenerated. Glimmer of hope. Squandered. Preposterous. Foolishness.

      Sounds like you paid attention in your silly liberal arts English class taught by a career academic.

  2. Mr. Full Freight on

    Its a 4 year education, not a 4 year social engineering experiment. Invest in great academic students!

    Education at LU is a 4.5 to an 8 depending on the program, tuition is a 9.5, merit aid is pitiful, really, really, pitiful. Admin seems to be more interested in filling up on special groups like first in family to college, or the kid from North Dakota than attracting the best most well rounded academically excellent students. This is a recipe many other schools are following – its great for administrators virtue signalling and getting that job up to the ivy league chain but it doesn’t help the student or academic quality of LU. LU needs to have a great value proposition to attract outstanding students. I needs to get competitive in merit aid. I would rather the LU used funds to attract great students that are star academic performers and not to make sure that there are students from remote states and countries.

    Oh yeah, I am non alumnus parent paying full boat – what the school needs is more of us. Luckily my kid is in a program there that is an 8, but if not, I would have refused to pay $65K and that’s what I tell anyone considering the school – LU is borderline “worth it” for a few programs otherwise there are better value propositions. Such value propositions will effect the quality of students who attend. I believe the school is worth $30K to $35K a year. So if only those on 50% FA accept their admissions offers then tuition will keep going up and the value proposition will keep falling for those with no FA.

    The school frankly has to look for the “dumb rich” to continue feeding this appetite. I have seen a few organizations become dependent on the dumb rich. It is not a good or sustainable situation to be in because there aren’t many of these people.

    Good luck, you only have two semester left from me.

    • Disgusted Alumnus on

      Fortunately there is a way to handle Lehigh’s recent graduates as they move on with their lives:


      Hey Mr. Full Freight, perhaps you might want to consider donating to this “worthy” charity.

      Don’t laugh too hard when you view it. Think of poor Declan and his health issues. Hah!!!

    • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

      Whether you are “dumb rich” or rich and relatively bright, you will feel marginalized by the mediocrity of the student body in every possible way. This is not the place for anyone who is capable of paying sticker-price. I graduated more than 10 years ago and still wish I had transferred. At least back then, it was considered a high ranking school, which is why I was pressured to stay there. I probably could have gone wherever I wanted, even if only on the basis of not needing financial aid. My father, until the day he died, told people with sons and daughters (good families) looking at Lehigh to steer clear.

      • Disgusted Alumnus on

        Sorry to here your father passed away. He was clearly a perceptive man.

        The academy is truly appalling nowadays with all of its useless bureaucrats ensconced in sinecure jobs blathering on about gender pronouns, racist Halloween costumes, diversity, LGBT and gender foolishness, microaggressions, safe spaces, etc.

        The bureaucracy in Student Affairs has over 100 people listed:


        Lehigh would be wise to rid itself of most of them.

        There is a similar bloat in the arm twisting “Development” office to go after donations.

        Again, over 100 useless drones.


        The great Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute puts all of this foolishness into its proper perspective in this video interview that took place at the Claremont Institute a few years ago.

        • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

          Thank you–my dad was a great man in every sense. He also apparently flipped out on the Development Office when they had someone contact him for a major gift and I wish I could have witnessed that.

          This video is brilliant and I plan on reading Heather MacDonald’s articles on related topics.

          I am currently a graduate student through one of the top state systems in the country and, even though this could be considered a less prestigious university, the differences in the quality of the teaching (even in online classes), the intellectual curiosity of my peers, and especially the resources available to me in terms of the library and career services are jaw-dropping.

  3. I went to Lehigh. My son will go to Lehigh. I have many friends who go to Lehigh. The university has done well by all of us. It is a GREAT institution that is very competitive. I see nothing wrong with the hip hop performance or anything else that will draw young kids to the college and keep their interest. I always thought that marching bands and orchestras were a waste because not as many students wanted to hear it. Sounds like they are more in touch than ever. I also think diversity in college is the key to correcting imbalance. You can call it social engineering but this is a private college and many of us are behind these efforts (I am Caucasian).

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