Michael Suguitan/Sun Staff Photographer

Members of the Class of 2025 carry dorm essentials as they prepare for the fall.

August 25, 2021

Cornell’s Class of 2025 Sees Lowest Acceptance Rate in Recent Years, Sets Records

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Cornell’s Class of 2025 has already begun to set records –– without stepping foot on campus. With an acceptance rate of 8.7 percent, the Class of 2025 has the lowest acceptance rate in recent years

67,380 applicants applied to Cornell in last year’s application cycle, an increase of nearly 16,000 from the previous year, likely due to the University’s decision to suspend ACT and SAT requirements.

Out of that application pool, 5,836 students were admitted. Come Thursday, 3,750 freshmen are expected to shuffle into the previously quiet halls of the University; for some, it will be their first in-person class since March of their junior year of high school. 

Shawn Felton, director of undergraduate admissions, noted the strength of Cornell’s incoming class, pointing to their ability to weather a particularly unusual high school education. 

“The Class of 2025 has endured extraordinary chaos while learning since the second semester of junior year of high school,” Felton wrote in an email to The Sun. “High school did not end as was likely anticipated. But, the members of the Class of 2025 are assuredly more resilient and compassionate because of the challenges they have already endured.”

One of the members of the class of 2025 Billie Morton ’24, an incoming transfer student from California, decided to apply to Cornell after “COVID protocol was not followed” at her previous university. When asked about starting in-person classes again after nearly two years of a virtual education, she shared a common sentiment. 

“While studying online at home, it was difficult to form connections with classmates and teachers at such a large school,” she said. “I truly look forward to being more connected in a more intimate and specialized environment this upcoming year.” 

The Class of 2025 is among the most diverse of the University’s recent classes, with 34.2 percent of the students self-identifying as underrepresented minorities, an increase of 7.3 points from the Class of 2024, and 59.3 percent identifying as students of color, a jump from last year’s 51.7 percent. 

19.4 percent of the class are first-generation college students, and 55 percent are women, both an uptick from previous years.  

Because 96 percent of Cornell’s on-campus population –– including students, faculty and staff –– are vaccinated, the campus is moving toward a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy 

“I think it will be great to have a sense of normalcy after the past year and a half,” said Peyton Lancaster ’25. 

Others, however, are unsure if a conventional college experience is still possible as the new Delta variant raises questions about the safety of returning to school. 

“We are going back to ‘normal’, but we don’t really know what that means anymore,” said Karen Lin ’24, who transferred to Cornell after spending her first year at Stony Brook University. “It feels like a new beginning. The college experience is never going to be the same again.” 

Still, many remain optimistic about Cornellians’ –– particularly the Class of 2025, which was undoubtedly shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic –– to experience all that is Cornell, from Slope Day to in-person classes. 

“My hope is that what has happened to each individual and the group collectively serves and supports them through the vast array of experiences and unique opportunities that Cornell provides,” Felton wrote. “As they come to feel that they belong and are truly a part of this very special place.”