Lehigh offered Early Decision I admission to more than 570 talented high school students from 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as 18 international countries.
The first members of the Class of 2026 include high school students who have worked on immigration, environmental, mental health and literacy issues and who strive to improve their communities. Additionally, 88 of the students, or 15% of the cohort, will be the first in their family to go to college.
One student was a lead volunteer at the non-profit Hearts and Homes for Refugees, with her work focusing on obtaining Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans facing persecution by the Taliban for aiding the United States. Another student led the ToTomorrow Environmental Club in Hanoi, Vietnam, which distributes recycling bins and encourages recycling in the community. One student worked both at Promly, a social media company, on campaigns to advance Gen Z mental health and at Girl Up, a United Nations foundation dedicated to advancing girls’ skills, rights and leadership opportunities. Another student founded TogetherWeGlue, a free tutoring service focused on teaching school children new languages and literacy.
In its second year of its test-optional policy, Lehigh saw its Early Decision applicant pool grow by 25% over the previous year.
"It's very exciting, and incredibly gratifying, that so many students–significantly more than a year ago–made Lehigh their number one choice,” said Dan Warner, vice provost for admissions and financial aid. “Academically, this Early Decision cohort is as strong as ever, but what was perhaps most impressive from my perspective was the ability of these students to take the lemons of the pandemic and turn them, not into lemonade, but into lemon meringue pie. The ways in which they were involved, stayed connected to others, and worked to make themselves and the world around them better were, in a word, inspiring."
The Early Decision I cohort also includes a student who organized and led efforts to raise $75,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Childrens’ Initiative, another student who led 55 other volunteers in restoring a trail system across 2.5 acres as part of his Eagle Scout project, and a student who won first prize at the Berklee Music Festival in 2019 and first prize at the National Jazz Festival in both 2020 and 2021.
Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble ’82 welcomed the students in an online message:
“Our students will tell you that our academic experiences are unparalleled–unique inner college interdisciplinary programs, a vibrant new College of Health, undergraduate research opportunities across the university, a West Coast presence with the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in San Francisco, a partnership with the United Nations, and fully funded Iacocca internships across the world. These are just some of the things that you can only do as a Lehigh student.
“You were admitted because of your talent, achievements and potential to be part of this community,” he said. “Join us, learn, grow and go out and change the world.”