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Among the Special Few at NYU


If you applied to NYU but did not get accepted this year, don’t beat yourself up too much! According to NYU’s College of Arts & Sciences, a record 67,000 people applied to be in the class of 2027, and only 4% were offered admission. Just five years ago, that rate was 20%, and last year it was 7%. Why this precipitous drop in acceptance rates?


NYU sits at the heart of New York City, embedded in the colorful, historic streets of Greenwich Village, and with great access to the surrounding neighborhoods and other boroughs of the city. The magnetic pull of this location, coupled with the excellent academic and artistic programs offered by the university, may be the most prominent reason for its enduring (and increasing) popularity in the eyes of high school seniors in the U.S. and around the world. But that only tells part of the story.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most colleges experienced a drop in applicants for the 2020 admissions cycle. Students who postponed applying that year to avoid Zoom University purgatory then inflated the number of applicants for the years following, and 2022 was no exception.

Washington Square Park, 2021

The pandemic also changed the college admissions landscape in more lasting ways. Beginning in 2020, due to health concerns and limited access to testing centers, many colleges dropped the requirement to submit standardized test scores. Today, as campuses enter a new normal, ACT and SAT submission requirements remain optional at a majority of colleges including NYU. Therefore, one reason for the explosion of applicants is that students who previously felt discouraged from applying with their less than eye-popping test scores may now feel incentivized to apply with their outstanding high school GPA.


Of course, students can still submit their test scores even if the school practices test-blind admissions. NYU reported that the incoming class of 2027 represents a median SAT score of 1540, so the bar is still very high even as they continue their test-optional admissions policy for the 2023-24 cycle.


Additionally, students with higher test scores tend to submit applications to a higher number of schools. While the national average of applications submitted per student is around five, students who scored at or above 1500 on the SAT applied to an average of about nine schools each. However, that does not explain why NYU in particular received such an enormous volume of applications.


Colleges’ increasing commitment to diversity and equity is another major factor in the increasing number of applicants. NYU reported a 20% increase in students who come from historically underrepresented backgrounds; nearly one-third of the incoming class of 2027 identify as Black/African American, Latinx, and/or Native American/Alaskan Native, and 22% are the first in their family to attend college. As more colleges prove their commitment to diversity and equity, more students will be encouraged to apply.


That being said, around 46% of current NYU first-years receive some form of financial aid, which is to say, 54% pay full tuition. Without financial aid, the average annual cost of attending NYU is in the ballpark of $80,000. Although NYU adheres to a need-blind admissions process, demographic changes that do not take into account class status reflect a skewed perspective of diversity and equity.



Yet another factor in the extraordinary number of applicants may be, oddly enough, the de-regulation of airlines and the increasingly affordable costs of flying. The cost of flying has dropped in the past several decades, with the greatest drop occurring in the price of international flights. Accordingly, NYU receives an incrementally higher number of international applicants each year, numbering around 17,000 for the class of 2023.


NYU is noteworthy for its international presence: in addition to its central location in the heart of Manhattan, it boasts of degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. While schools like NYU Abu Dhabi have their own statistics and low acceptance rates, the main hub in New York may receive more international applicants simply because their satellite schools increase awareness and recognition of NYU throughout the world and among elite applicants who, several decades before, might not have had the means to attend school so far from home.


For all these reasons, the accepted class of 2027 at New York University can count themselves among the very special few. Congratulations!


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