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A look at university acceptance rates over the last 20 years

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Over time, acceptance rates for both in-state and out-of-state students applying to the Newark campus have gradually increased.
Bianka Heather/THE REVIEW

Senior Reporter

From 2000 to 2020, university acceptance rates to the Newark campus have ranged from a low of 41.9% in 2003 to a high of 68.2% in 2019, according to Institutional Research and Effectiveness’ Facts & Figures publication.

Over time, acceptance rates for both in-state and out-of-state students applying to the Newark campus have gradually increased. From 2000 to 2006, acceptance rates ranged from 41.9% to 52.6%. From 2007 to 2012, acceptance rates ranged from 54.2% to 58.7%. From 2013 to 2020, acceptance rates ranged from 60.5% to 68.2%.

Acceptance rates for the Associate in Arts Program (AAP) increase and decrease, sometimes drastically, without pattern. From 2007 to 2020, the in-state acceptance rates ranged from 58.1% to 87.7%.

The increase of Newark campus acceptance rates in 2007 and on coincides with former university President Patrick Harker taking office in 2007. Over the course of Harker’s presidency, acceptance rates ranged from 55.5% to 65.9%, resulting in a 10.4 percentage point increase.

University President Dennis Assanis’s presidency coincides with a range of 60.5% to 68.2% students accepted to the Newark campus, which is an increase of 7.7 percentage points.

The university does not guarantee housing for upperclassmen, which allows it to admit more students without the necessary housing to accommodate them after their freshman year. The university has also built more residence halls over time, which allows for an even larger incoming class.

In 2016, the year that the university became test-optional, the acceptance rate for in-state applicants increased 0.8 percentage points, the acceptance rate for out-of-state applicants increased 2.9 percentage points, and in-state Associate in Arts Program applicants increased 11.4 percentage points.

Shortly after Assanis’ presentation to the Joint Finance Committee on Feb. 6, 2020, when he made controversial comments about in-state students, Assanis released his “commitment to First State Students” letter, where he emphasized the university’s commitment to Delaware residents. In the letter, he wrote that the acceptance rate for in-state applicants is much higher than out of state.

“This amounts to an acceptance of nearly 90% of the Delawareans who apply as first-year students, admitting them to either our main campus or our Associate in Arts program,” Assanis wrote. “This is far above our out-of-state acceptance rate of 68%.”

However, from 2018 to 2020 – two years after Assanis took office – the acceptance rate of resident applicants and non-resident applicants to the Newark campus has been extremely close, and in some cases, almost identical.

When Assanis made this statement in Feb. 2020, the last acceptance rate recorded was from 2019, when the in-state acceptance rate was 68.1%, the out of state acceptance rate was 68.3%, and the acceptance rate for the AAP was 78.5%, making the in-state acceptance rate slightly lower than out of state in that year.

In 2018, the acceptance rate for in-state applicants was 65.4% and for out-of-state applicants, it was 62.6%. In 2020, the acceptance rate for in-state applicants was 66.3% and for out-of-state applicants, it was 62.6%.

The AAP also has acceptance rates close to the rates of both in-state and out-of-state applicants. In 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2018, the acceptance rate for AAP applicants was closer to the rate of in-state applicants for the Newark campus, and sometimes even lower.

Most years, the AAP has offered a somewhat higher acceptance rate than both in-state and out-of-state applicants. Some years, such as 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020, the acceptance rate is much higher, some with even a difference of 10 percentage points.

Over the last 20 years, acceptance rates have gradually increased, as have the amount of students applying. However, it is hard to predict what acceptance rates will look like for 2021. With the pandemic, acceptance rates could rise or lower depending on the amount of students that apply to enroll in Fall 2021. 

If the university is in financial need, it may admit more students, increasing the acceptance rate and the amount of incoming tuition. On the other hand, if too many students apply because of gap years due to the pandemic, the acceptance rate could decrease due to a limited capacity.

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