By Christine Boynton,
A surge in college applicants has hit colleges across the country, and this impact has been felt at McDaniel. This surge of students, dubbed the “echo boom,” offspring of the “baby-boomer” generation, has made the college acceptance rate even more selective, and as a result, more competitive.
At Harvard University, admission was only offered to 7.1% of total applicants, rejecting 93 out of every 100 applicants. The New York Times reports that many of these rejected students had “extraordinary achievements, like a perfect score on one of the SAT exams.”
Following this panic, high school seniors are beginning to apply to many more schools in an attempt to have some feeling of security in the process. According to USA Today, a study compiled by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA found that “the proportion of high school seniors applying to six or more colleges increased by 41% from 1994 to 2004. “
Gina King, Director of Admissions at McDaniel College is well aware of this trend. However, she notes that extreme levels of rejected applicants, like those at Harvard, are an anomaly. “Over 70% of the colleges in the US accept over 75% of their applicants,” she says. Though happening at a smaller scale, McDaniel College has also witnessed the number of their applicants increasing, in a steady rise since 2002.
“Our applications have grown 68% since the name change ? this is due in part to the echo boom, and in part to students now recognizing our college as private, liberal arts,” says King.
As students apply to a wider range of schools, the rate of accepting admission once accepted into McDaniel College is about one in every five students, says King. Due to this trend, it has become necessary for admission to follow a projection model ? one that allows them to send out more acceptance letters, but still retain the desired class size.
Though the number of applicants continues to increase (see chart), McDaniel College can still only accept a total of 500 students ? this includes transfers and incoming freshman.
Based on compiled data from the past few years, King projects that the rise in applicants will continue to increase over the next two to three years, before leveling off and calming down. A recent study by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education confirms this prediction. It found that that the growth in numbers of high school graduates will, this year, begin a decline that will continue until 2015.
This study also predicts that Hispanic graduates will, by 2015, increase by 54%, and the number of white graduates will decrease by 11%. Many small liberal arts schools are beginning to take note of this projection. Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, has begun to promote in the South and Southwest ? areas with large numbers Hispanic high school graduates.
McDaniel College has also increased efforts of recruiting for a diverse student body. For the past three years, Associate Director of Admissions, Stephanie DeSanctis has represented McDaniel and led a group of small liberal arts colleges in a two-week tour around Central and South America.
This tour has seen success, and applications from these areas have gone up ? though liberal arts is not in their culture, and is vastly different from their own country’s education system, explains King. She adds, “We’re trying to work with niche markets.” Besides these specific geographic locations, these niche markets include first generation students and students of color.
Though next year’s class will not be determined until May 5, the Fall 2008 class already ranges from many different areas, two of the more exotic locations being Nepal and Zambia.
McDaniel continues recruiting efforts across the United States as well. Every year McDaniel College is represented in the cross-country “Colleges that Change Lives tour,” visiting five to six cities a week. Their efforts seemed to have paid off, as evidenced by the still-forming profile of next year’s class. So far, incoming students will hail from; Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington State, to name a few.
Though the number of applicants continues to grow, recruiting efforts remain vital to McDaniel College ? both from across the United States and around the world. As King says, “A diverse student body is how we can succeed.”