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Carleton 2026 profile: lowest acceptance rate to date

With the May 1 deadline coming and going, a new class of students commit to making Carleton their home for the next four years. After National College Decision Day, Admissions reports the lowest acceptance rate for any class in the history of the college at 16.5%. Also a historical record is the number of applications the college received, with 8,583 total between early and regular decision. Out of these applicants, 546 of the accepted students chose Carleton.

The 8,583 applications represent a 668 applicant increase from last year. The Class of 2025 itself had already seen a nearly 1,000 application increase from the year before. Despite the huge increase in applications, the Class of 2026 is around 24 students short of matching the Class of 2025 in size. This is largely due to the fact that the Class of 2025 had to make up for the smaller class size of the Class of 2024, which was admitted at the height COVID-19. 

The incoming class is not only record-breaking in terms of acceptance rate and application numbers, but also in racial makeup. 40% of incoming first-years identify as students of color, including 1.3% American Indian/Alaska Native, 19.8% Asian/Asian American, 10.8% Black/African American and 11.2% Hispanic Latino. This figure represents an 8% increase from last year’s 32% BIPOC share. 

However, the class is slightly less international than the previous one with 9.7% of students coming to Northfield from abroad, a 2.3% decrease from the previous year. Still, the newest Carls hail from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 30 countries. 

In terms of socioeconomic status, the class makes up for similar figures as previous years with 15.8% being the first generation in their family to go to college and 16.7% being Pell-Grant recipients. This class also includes the first group of Pell students benefitting from the Schuler Access Initiative, which pledged $50 million for undocumented, DACA and Pell-Grant students last fall. Fifty-four percent of students qualify for need-based financial aid with an average grant of $51,848. The total financial aid budget for the first-year class amounts to just over $15.3 million.

Test-optional policies continued from last year with 41.6% of the class opting not to submit standardized test scores. This policy will continue at least through the next few admission cycles. The college will continue to evaluate whether it will remain test-optional.

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