Early Decision applications to William & Mary increased 18%, the second consecutive record-breaking year for this phase of the admission process. 

Students who apply Early Decision have determined William & Mary to be their clear, top-choice school and are willing to commit to enrolling if offered admission. The university hosts two rounds of Early Decision prior to its non-binding regular admission process. Accepted students will join this year’s incoming freshman class, which will arrive on campus in August.

“We are honored and excited to see continuing growth in the pool of highly accomplished applicants for whom William & Mary is their top choice,” said Dean of Admission Tim Wolfe. “It says a great deal about the quality of the education, community and experience that we offer. It also speaks volumes about the extraordinary partners throughout campus dedicated to recruiting talented students to the university.”

The record combined total for Early Decision includes increases in applications from both in- and out-of-state students, along with first-generation students and those who applied with a fee waiver.

The increases among first-generation students and those using a fee waiver may be related to the university’s recent efforts to increase affordability through financial aid and scholarships, Wolfe said. This includes the recent launch of an initiative to guarantee scholarship aid to cover at least the cost of tuition and fees for all in-state, undergraduate Pell Grant eligible students.

Pell Grants are provided by the federal government to undergraduates who display significant financial need as reported through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. At 87%, W&M has the highest four-year graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients of any public university in Virginia.

“On average, William & Mary is the most affordable university in Virginia for students with need and also provides them with the highest probability of completing their degree on time. We are committed to ensuring that high caliber students recognize that they belong here and can succeed at the university,” said Vice President for Strategy & Innovation Jeremy Martin. He added the university has made strides by making scholarships the top priority in W&M’s last comprehensive campaign, offering fee waivers and strategic partnerships such as the Posse Scholars program. The Pell Grant initiative will build on that success.

“We have more to do in realizing this strategic priority,” he added. “Regardless of background, William & Mary is a place for talented students to flourish.”

The university sent notifications to applicants in its Early Decision II pool on Wednesday, and applicants in the Early Decision I pool were notified of their status in December. William & Mary received approximately 1,460 applications for the two groups combined.

Given the significant increase and strength of the Early Decision applicant pool, admission will be offered to about 664 students, another record total and an increase of 10% over last year. The overall size of the incoming freshman class will not increase.

Wolfe said that the increase in Early Decision applications is likely due to several factors, including students’ ability post-pandemic to spend more time researching and visiting campuses. Admissions professionals have also resumed travel to visit prospective students, high schools and college fairs. William & Mary has been particularly intentional about increasing  outreach to prospective students.

With the Early Decision process completed, Wolfe and his team are now focused on the regular admission process. Those applications were due Jan. 2, and notifications are expected to be sent to applicants by the end of March.

Although still early in that review process, Wolfe anticipates that the university will end up with more than 17,500 total applications for an entering class of approximately 1,650 students. Over the past three years, William & Mary has seen its applicant pool increase by nearly 25%. 

Students who are accepted to university are expected to flock to campus with friends and family members in April for the annual Day for Admitted Students (April 15) and Green & Gold Days (April 17, 21, 24 and 28). More information will be forthcoming on those events on the Undergraduate Admission website.

, Senior Associate Director of University News