The bump in numbers is part of a continued overall upward trend over the past decade, said Dean of Admission Heath Einstein.
The previous fall application record of 19,972 was set in 2016.
The biggest bump came between 2010 and 2011, when applications soared from 14,079 to 19,166, likely the result of the football team making it to the Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl.
However, Einstein said more applications does not necessarily yield a stronger incoming class.
“While we certainly don’t want our popularity to wane, there are demographic, financial and logistical challenges to consider when weighing the relationship between the size of the applicant pool and the strength of our institution,” Einstein said.
Conscious of this, Einstein said his team makes data-informed decisions and strategically deploys admission marketing materials. Enhancing the recruitment and application process is an ever-evolving effort on admissions part, he said. Implementing new technology and taking continuous stock of processes and events will ensure that prospective students will be provided the highest quality admission program possible.
In the last couple of years, TCU has accepted a little more than 40 percent of applicants. The percentage of admitted students who enroll has ranged between 22 percent and 26 percent.
Keeping a low acceptance rate helps attract high-achieving students, Einstein said.
He said admissions focus is on enrolling students who will maintain the university’s position in the higher education landscape and how they will succeed at TCU.
Admissions is already planning for fall 2019 applicants.
“The enrollment cycle never truly ends,” Einstein said. “Even though we focus a great deal of energy right now on encouraging admitted high school seniors to commit to TCU, we are equally mindful that high school juniors (rising seniors) have already begun their college search.”
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article incorrectly identified Heath Einstien. He is the Dean of Admission.