By Frank Orlich
The College recently welcomed a new crop of students ready to enjoy their first late-night bites of $5 pizza, chats with Big Larry, homecoming weekends and Brower Student Center meal-equiv rushes. The freshman class moved in on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Although the 1,379-member class’ introduction to the College was a bit unconventional — a Welcome Week shortened by a hurricane and no convocation ceremony — the atypical welcome was fitting to the Class of 2015, which brings with it some firsts of its own.
The nearly 1,400 students were selected from an applicant pool of more than 10,000. This marks the College’s first time surpassing 10,000 applicants.
“Reaching 10,000 applications has been a goal for the College for a few years now,” said Matt Middleton, associate director of out-of-state recruitment. “We got close last year at 9,950, but to finally get over is a major accomplishment.”
The record number of applicants spread to out-of-state students. According to Middleton, 6.3 percent of the class is from out of state, which is up from the previous year.
“We’re trying to grow that number to 15 percent,” Middleton said. “Obviously we have a long way to go, but we feel that 15 percent from out of state will benefit our in-state students in terms of name recognition for the school, especially for career placement.”
The College received applications from 38 states and enrolled students from California, Florida, Texas, Ohio and Virginia.
The average SAT score for the enrolled students was 1226 — down from 1240 the previous year. Middleton argues that the drop is not a reflection of the overall applicant pool but rather the result of a change in admissions strategy.
“This year, for the first time, we took a student’s choice of major into account much more. We always get applications in certain areas more than others, and this year we made a conscious effort to grow in areas such as business, arts and music,” Middleton said, adding that if the College accepted students solely based on SAT scores, “half the school would be biology majors.”
As such, additional indicators of academic quality, such as class rank, are considered in the admissions process.
“Class rank is still about the same as in previous years. We’re still recruiting the same caliber high-school student,” Middleton said.
The increase in competitiveness among applicants is still there when factors such as class rank and rigor of class schedule are taken into account, Middleton added.