Hats off to the Dunbar Class of 2024!

By The Dunbar Team


In May, we met to review our Dunbar students’ results and see what trends we could identify. Several of us are also participating in a significantly larger pool of anonymous independent consultants’ results as well so we may have an update in a few weeks based on that larger dataset.

Our students garnered 354 acceptances across 201 colleges and universities, and we were happy to see that 70% of them were accepted by one of their top three choices with 47% of our students being accepted by their first choice.

While it certainly felt this year as if we were seeing more deferrals and wait lists – and our professional list serves were full of the same stories! – the actual numbers don’t agree. Seventeen percent of our students’ applications were deferred or wait-listed, which is in line with prior years’ results and actually lower than last year’s at 23%. The last two years have definitely seen higher numbers of deferrals and waitlists at colleges where students are above-profile, reflecting colleges’ commitment to their own enrollment priorities and the importance of demonstrating interest.

Thirteen percent of our deferred students were later accepted and a full third were wait-listed after having been deferred – with these numbers, we would find it hard to recommend a student hold out for a college that has deferred them. The colleges that deferred the greatest number of our students were the University of Michigan, the University of Miami, and the University of Richmond. (At Miami and Richmond, Early Decision students are definitely being rewarded for their commitments and in many cases, switching a deferred Early Action application to Early Decision 2 results in an acceptance.)

At this point in time, only 6% of our students who were wait-listed have been offered a spot off the waitlist. Given the complications with the new FAFSA roll-out this year, we do anticipate some additional waitlist activity this summer, but we encourage our students who have stayed on waitlists to be realistic and prepared to attend the university where they have deposited.

Our students fared equally well submitting applications with and without test scores, following our guidance college by college. Just over 21% of our students applying to Reaches were accepted with or without submitting test scores.

Test scores are viewed within context of both the college or university’s preferences (some are truly test optional, others are essentially test optional in name only for well-resourced students) and the student’s profile. For example, if a student’s scores are below a specific college’s mean but are the strongest part of their application, we would recommend submitting them. And if a student’s scores are below a college’s mean but are high for their high school, we also might recommend submitting them.

We continue to see the importance of institutional priorities driving application decisions as much as students’ academic profiles, highlighting the strategic importance of Early Decision and Early Decision 2 commitments. (Fifty percent of our students’ ED applications and 79% of our students’ ED2 applications were accepted.)

Upcoming changes for next year:

– A small number of highly selective colleges are returning to requiring test scores for this fall’s applications, including MIT, Dartmouth, Brown, and Yale. (The Yale Admissions Office podcast has an excellent discussion of their decision process that is enlightening for anyone who wants to dig more deeply into this topic.)

– Yale is introducing a test flexible program, giving students the option of submitting SAT, ACT, AP, or IB scores.

– A side note on this topic – CA students are finding it very difficult to find seats at SAT and ACT test centers as fewer schools are supporting test dates now that the UCs are test blind.

– Stanford has announced they will return to requiring the SAT or ACT for applications due in the fall of 2025, giving students time to prepare.

– More state universities will clarify their position as “test preferred.”

– The University of Connecticut will offer Early Decision, which may cut down their generous offers as they fill part of their incoming class early.

– The University of Florida will add an Early Action program, providing a second application option to Regular Decision.

– The University of Michigan will start admitting first year students directly into the Ross School of Business.

– Both UNC and Clemson have over-enrolled in recent years, which will most likely result in lower acceptance rates for both.

– For those students interested in UK options, the University of Cambridge and Imperial University are introducing new admissions tests delivered by Pearson VUE – see details here.

We are looking forward to applying these lessons – and more as we are constantly reviewing the landscape for new insights – as we move into a new application season with our rising seniors!