Class of 2016 receives record number of apps

By Stacey Goldberg

According to Director of Admissions Matthew Hyde, the class of 2016 has received the highest recorded number of applications in the college’s history. According to Vice President of Communications Robert Massa,

According to the Office of Admissions, a record 6,590 prospective students applied for a space in Lafayette’s class of 2016.

These applicants are also coming from a record number of locations around the world. The international pool of applicants has grown from 937 last year to 1,185 this year. According to Director of Admissions Matthew Hyde, the rise in international applications is partly a result of Lafayette reaching out to new locations in Africa, Central America and South America. This push to extend Lafayette’s market goes hand in hand with the global studies center being built, Hyde said.

The record number of applications is also due to a better domestic strategic marketing approach. According to Hyde, admissions representatives have expanded the number of new high schools that they have visited from roughly 750 last year to around 1,100 this year. Vice President of Communications Robert Massa attributes the application hike to the increased reach from admissions representatives, as well as new ad-targeting techniques that have recently been made available with social media.

“If we have an admissions counselor in Dallas, we’ll put a Facebook ad on to target students from age 15-17 within a 50 mile radius of Dallas and we’ll post that ad for two weeks before the admission person goes out to drum up interest for Lafayette,” Massa said. Additionally, this form of advertising is cheap and effective. An ad of this sort costs roughly $350 (almost three times less than mass-mailings) and, according to Massa, can get almost 2 million views and 550 click-throughs.

Data on the class of 2016 will not be available until March, when the school has announced the application decisions. Despite the greater number of applications, however, the school has no plans of increasing the class size beyond the range of 600-620 students.

“With that significant growth in the applicant pool there come more challenges to predict our view and model what the class will look like, but there are no plans to grow the college based on the target that we are looking at,” Hyde said.

Massa stated that a consequence of more applicants is a superior reputation for the school.

“It’s not about inflating the number of applications to reject more students and look more selective, that’s an outcome, but that’s not why we do it,” he said. “We do it so we can enroll the best students possible and that to the external public…we appear to be as we definitely are, a prestigious institution.”

Additionally, Massa attributes the now one and a half year-old website to attracting prospective students. The admissions page (admissions.lafayette.edu) is the second most visited page on the college website (the first being the lafayette.edu homepage, which has gotten over one million hits in the past six months.)

According to Massa, the website makes admissions-related tasks easier for prospective students and avoids unnecessary hurdles that students used to have, such as having to make phone calls to schedule visits and appointments and checking application status.

While the communications department has made the website a tool that prospective students can use to gain interest, the admissions department has been enhancing the physical prospective experience by stressing the importance of the interview to bring more prospectives to the campus and working closely with the student ambassador program to give them a unique experience. This means smaller tours and more “purposeful” training.

“We’re not necessarily scripting [student ambassadors], but giving them license to speak about their experiences and allowing our visitors to see Lafayette through their eyes” Hyde said.

Matt Mezger ‘13, a member of the ambassador committee, said he and the other 100 ambassadors “hone in on having small personalized experiences, which compared to other schools in the area hasn’t always been the case.”

When recruiting Student Ambassadors, Mezger said that they are looking for students who are personable and can easily interact with families.

“We’re also looking for those who are capable of showing a positive face of Lafayette. We’re not out to hide the negatives but we want to make sure that they are providing positive aspects to the campus,” he said. Once prospectives are on campus, Mezger said that it is the tour that plays a critical role in bringing them back, either making or breaking their decision.