Lehigh’s Office of Admissions received more than 18,000 applications for the class of 2027. This cohort has set a new record with a 21% increase in applications from the class of 2026.
The record-breaking number of applications included all three rounds: Early Decision I, Early Decision II and Regular Decision.
The office received more applications from women than men for the first time in the university’s history and more applicants from nearly every ethnic and racial category.
Bruce Bunnick, director of undergraduate admissions, said the office works to highlight Lehigh as widely as they can to maximize submitted applications.
“The increase of applications is a culmination of four years of work that we’ve done by strategically communicating to more high school students across the country,” Bunnick said. “We’re now talking to students who are in their late freshman and sophomore year of high school to reach a broader audience.”
Bunnick said the office is admitting 1,500 students for the class of 2027 and is not planning to grow that number.
He said they’ve seen a 47% increase in applications to the College of Health — growth he expects to continue in the future.
He attributes the increase in the number of applicants to more visitors being permitted on campus and the office maintaining the same number of virtual events hosted as they did at the height of COVID-19.
Donald Outing, vice president for equity and community and the diversity and inclusion officer, said the increase in applicants who are people of color is “encouraging”.
He said 32% of applicants were people of color — a 7% increase from the class of 2026. First-generation applicants were also more prevalent.
In 2020, Lehigh adopted a test-optional policy regarding the submission of SAT and ACT scores indefinitely for the class of 2025 and continues to allow applicants to choose to submit their scores.
Outing said when universities became test optional, there was an increase in applicants across those institutions. He said they saw more applications from students who are from low-income families and who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color.
When required test submissions were removed, Outing said applicant hesitancy was eliminated. The change makes the university seem more receptive to students of diverse backgrounds who may experience different challenges.
“Some students won’t apply to elite or private institutions like Lehigh because they may not feel like their test scores are competitive enough,” Outing said. “The goal is to eliminate the idea that scores are going to be the reason why they’re not accepted.”
He said the pandemic caused more institutions to be test-optional, but higher education has been examining standardized testing as an assessment of collegiate potential for quite some time.
Outing said the Office of Admissions is working to improve the quality of the campus environment for incoming students by intentionally improving the racial, ethnic, gender and social diversity of the admitted students.
“Regardless of your race, gender or socioeconomic status, we want students to feel like they belong here,” Outing said. “We’re going to continue to focus on engaging and working with the Admissions Office to grow the diversity of Lehigh.”
Andrew Tsiaras, ‘22, 23’G, and graduate assistant for the Office of Admissions, hosts information sessions for prospective students who are visiting Lehigh.
“We’re always looking to make our community a more diverse one,” Tsiaras said. “That doesn’t just mean in terms of race but getting any kind of minority into the education setting.”
Tsiaras said he recommends prospective students take a tour of the campus before applying to Lehigh.
Bunnick said the office is looking forward to April not only to finish reviewing applications, but to get to know the students who were admitted on a more personal level.