If you search up “American University” on Google, you may notice a surprising difference in one important statistic- acceptance rate. As of today, U.S. News and World Report indicates that American University has a 64% acceptance rate, which is almost double what it was reported as a year prior.
When sophomore and AU Ambassador Prapti Roy found out, she was caught by surprise.
“I wasn’t aware that it was that much of an increase, but the fifth and sixth floors of Centennial Hall were all filled up with sophomores, so it was pretty obvious because of that.”
Roy references the housing shortage the class of 2025 faces, leading many sophomores to reside in traditionally freshman dorms. She said the higher acceptance rate doesn’t change her perception of the school, but makes her consider how they prioritize existing students vs. attracting new students.
“I don’t think we’ve addressed existing problems with the proper resources and attention,” said Roy. “If you’re going to keep raising the acceptance rate, you have to cater to the students already here.”
Andrea Felder, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment, accounts this steep increase to the pandemic and uncertainty in student choice to attend. Felder says they also admitted additional students in 2021, leading to a larger class.
Felder was quick to point out the acceptance rate had already dropped the following year, as the incoming class of 2022 had a rate of 41%. Regarding the future of American University admissions, Felder said, “I don’t anticipate that the acceptance rate will be as high as 64% in the near term.”
In regards to how the university will scale its resources to accommodate larger amounts of students, Felder responded, “We still provide the same level of service, opportunities, and rigor for all students.”
Felder said they hired additional adjunct faculty, ensuring there are still smaller class sizes for AUX, Complex Problems, and writing courses for first- year students. The university is continuing to make progress on spaces like the Mary-Graydon Center for students to gather and connect. Felder asserted the university is thinking strategically on how to support undergraduates as they move forward.
Anna Kim, the director of C2 Center of Bridgewater, a college admission and test prep service, has over 10 years of experience providing college counseling services to high school students.
Kim was shocked to hear of American University’s increase in acceptance rate, as most trends in popular universities have been the opposite.
“Interesting. I’m taken aback by it a little bit,” Kim said. “Most schools have dropped dramatically in their acceptance rates- we’re talking record-high numbers of applicants and record-low acceptance rates.”
However, she said a higher acceptance rate may not necessarily be a bad thing, as students may feel more inclined to apply if their chances of getting in are higher. Especially since American University is well-known for specific programs, it could be exciting that a school with top programs is now more accessible, she says.
If admitting larger quantities of students is becoming the university’s new norm, it remains to be seen what changes the student body and administration will face.