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College admits 8% of applicants for Class of 2025, will host prospective students virtually

The College released regular admission decisions to the Class of 2025 on March 19. This year 1,279 students were offered admission out of the record-breaking 15,857 who applied, once again lowering the acceptance rate to just 8%. The College expects to yield about 560 students for the incoming first-year class.

The accepted students hail from 48 different states and 60 countries. 35% of U.S.-admitted students identify as a person of color and 11% are international students. The median SAT score is 1520, and the median ACT score is 34. Nearly 95% of the students are expected to graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class.

The College has expanded its financial aid program in recent years through the Colby Commitment, guaranteeing a $0 contribution for families earning less than $65,000, and the Fair Shot Fund, ensuring that families making between $65,000 and $150,000 will make a maximum contribution of $15,000. The College hopes to build on these programs by eventually becoming a need-blind institution, meaning they wouldn’t consider financial need at all during the admissions process.

The incoming Class of 2025 has had one of the most unique college application processes to date, spending the latter half of their high school career in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancellation of on-campus college tours, college fairs, and modified testing environments for the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement tests led to an unprecedented college admissions process.

Conor Mynahan `25, spoke with The Colby Echo about some of the hardships he and other high school seniors faced.

“The biggest impact of the pandemic on my application process was the ability to visit schools and get a feel for which community would be best for me,” Mynahan said. “Missing out on in-person tours, information sessions, and accepted students events definitely made the process challenging.”

Mynahan’s sister, Abby Mynahan `23, expressed her excitement to welcome her brother to Mayflower Hill.

“I am super excited for my brother to come to Colby next year. We get along really well, so I think that it will be a fun experience to be at Colby together,” she said.

Vice President of Enrollment and Communications Matt Proto noted the unique admissions process as a result of the pandemic.

“This is one of the most innovative years in college admissions. One of the most interesting things for us is that we actually visited more high schools and community-based organizations than we ever have using Zoom and other virtual programs,” Proto said.

He added that nothing is truly like being on campus and getting a feel for the school, but the Office of Admissions has hosted virtual tours and conversations with admissions counselors to give potential students a taste of the College.

Many colleges and universities, including all of the Ivy League schools, modified their testing policies to accommodate applicants after a difficult year. Proto said because Colby went test optional two years ago, there hasn’t been much change to the application process here.

While much of the world has been watching the U.S. struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic, a looming question has been whether this would impact the number of international students applying to schools in the U.S. While general numbers are not yet known, Proto said this has not been the case for the College. Applications are up 13% overall, with increases in both domestic and international applicants.

Victoria Dimock, an admissions counselor at IvyWise College and Former Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago and Sarah Lawrence College, said in an email to The Colby Echo “I have seen more and more students over the past few years gravitate towards strong liberal arts colleges like Colby that offer a wonderful education and a smaller, vibrant, community of learners.  I think the school is beginning to have much more recognition outside of the east coast and New England area because of this, which helps attract even more students to apply and want to attend.”

Because of the College’s no visitors policy, the Office of Admissions is unable to host its traditional admitted students program. However, prospective students are invited to attend the virtual admitted students program from April 19-24.

“Last year we had to make the unfortunate decision to make our admitted students program virtual,” Proto explained. “In that time, our team had to quickly come together to come up with innovative solutions to help students experience Colby.”

One of those solutions was to connect students with faculty and allow prospective students to sit in on virtual classes on Zoom or mock classes. As for programming, current students have also been asked to host events in addition to a conversation with Provost Margaret McFadden and Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae `94.

Proto said the events being offered should be the same as the in-person experience, but  he also acknowledged that one of the things that is lost in a virtual environment is the ability for students to meet other students.

While they do miss out on some opportunities, the Class of 2025 will also be the first to fully experience the new Davis Center for Artificial Intelligence when it opens in the fall of 2021 and the Paul J. Schupf Arts Center in downtown Waterville in late 2022.

Only time will show how the COVID-19 pandemic might have permanently altered the college application process. Proto believes the typical high school senior applied to more colleges this year compared to previous years.

Dimock also said of the pandemic that “for many students this caused some fear that they may not ‘know’ a school as well and led some students to apply to more schools than usual as their feelings towards given colleges were a bit more up in the air.”

It also remains to be seen whether some institutions will choose to keep their test-optional policies beyond the pandemic. For Colby’s admissions process, Proto said they will keep some of the virtual connections even when travel for the admissions counselors resumes.

~ Fiona Huo ‘23

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