Class of 2018 breaks records

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Changes in acceptance rates demonstrates the increased selectivity of the college’s Admissions Office.

Ian Morse

By Ian Morse ‘17 & Dominique Marcial ‘17
Collaborative Writers

The percentage of diverse students in each incoming class increases over time.
The percentage of diverse students in each incoming class increases over time.

A tidal wave of new applications for the Class of 2018 resulted in record-breaking diversity numbers, selectivity, and SAT scores and ACT scores for Lafayette’s admissions.

The Class of 2018, according to data from Admissions, has the largest percentage of students of color and international students in the college’s history. Coupled with the college’s large proportion of non-white and non-U.S. students, the percentage of students enrolled from the tri-state area matched last year’s record-breaking low.

More than 11 percent of Lafayette’s newest class are international students, up from 9.8 percent for the class of 2017 and 3.7 percent for the class of 2014.

The recently enrolled class includes the highest percentage of students of color (26.8 percent), exceeding the proportion of students of color in the Class of 2017. Four years ago, only 18.7 percent of the first-year class were students of color.

Two-thirds of the class of 2014, which graduated this past spring, were from either Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York. The classes of 2017 and 2018 are comprised of about 54 percent of students form the tri-state area.

“This class is 14 students larger than last year’s,” Vice President of Enrollment Management Greg MacDonald said. “Not at the expense of quality.”

“The quality metrics of this class are in fact record-breaking,” he added, referring to the new class’ SAT Composite and ACT scores.

Members of the admissions team attributed these statistics to their nationwide and global expansion to reach more prospective students.

“Over the past 4 or 5 years the [admissions] staff has grown.” Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management Carol Rowlands said. “There are more territory managers are able to travel more widely.”

“Prior to 2010, we were doing roughly 20 states, and 10 countries and 700 schools [and community-based organizations],” MacDonald said.

Last year, Lafayette admissions representatives visited 1305 schools and community-based organizations and conducted on-the-ground recruitment in 36 states and 25 countries, according to MacDonald.

In addition, more admissions representatives were sent to the West Coast and abroad, particularly California and Africa.

MacDonald said the steep drop in the percentage of students from the tri-state area is the result of increased competition.

“What we’re attempting to do is get the best students from our own backyard,” MacDonald said, “mixing them in with students from other parts of the world and other parts of the country to make the experience for our tri-state students even better.”

“Lafayette College is a nationally ranked college and one of the best in the world,” MacDonald explained. “We have to have students from around the world to deliver on how the rest of the world sees us.”

These initiatives led to the largest increase in applications and the most selective year in recent years.

“Last year we had our largest year ever in terms of total applications; we ended up with 7859 applications,” Rowlands said. That is 1100 more applications than the previous year, a 16 percent increase. The acceptance rate has thus decreased to 29.2 percent.

“If given 5700 applications, we’re going to admit the right people, but given 7800 applications, we’re going to have an even stronger class,” MacDonald said.

“When we say diversifying our applicant pool, it’s geographic diversity, it’s socioeconomic diversity, it’s academic diversity, it’s international diversity,” MacDonald added.

The enrollment team plans to exceed 8000 applications in the coming year, while concentrating more in international recruitment in fewer countries.