Admission Rates for 2013 Remain Steady, Despite Recession

Just when college-bound seniors thought they would finally be cut a break, the 5Cs have proven themselves just as selective as past years. Although most small liberal arts colleges were expecting applicant numbers to drop sharply due to the recession, numbers stayed about the same for all the schools and even increased slightly for some of the colleges.

Pomona College admitted 15.7 percent of applicants for the class of 2013. Admissions officers read through the applications of 6,149 hopefuls and are looking to host a class of about 390 students. This number is slightly down from the 6,292 students that composed last year’s applicant pool. Early decision applications jumped 20 percent, according to The New York Times. This increase was unexpected, as early decision denies students the chance to compare financial aid packages.

“We have seen some increase in the number of applicants and admits interested in financial aid and certainly have seen substantial financial aid packages up to 100 percent extended with the admission offers,” said Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions for Pomona. “I think we have a very solid reputation for a strong tradition and program of financial aid which may have shielded us from some of the effects felt at other colleges.”

Claremont McKenna College admitted about 16 percent of all applicants, a three percent drop from last year’s admission rate. Out of 4,275 applicants, 671 were accepted. The accepted students are 52 percent female and 48 percent male. Students residing out of state account for 62 percent of the acceptance pool and international students account for 14 percent.

Pitzer, the college with the sharpest drop in admission rates over the past few years, has once more seen an increase in applications. In 2004, Pitzer accepted 40.3 percent of applicants. Just five years later, that number has been virtually cut in half. For the class of 2013, Pitzer College admitted only 20 percent of applicants. Last year’s admission rate was at 22 percent.

“Since we are so small, we are only able to admit 822 applicants and since we had 2,079 applicants these were very difficult decisions,” said Pitzer Admissions Counselor Danny Irving in “Admission Unpeeled,” a blog that documents the Pitzer admission staff’s progress. “This put us at a 20 percent acceptance rate and, believe me, we wanted to admit more than 20 percent of you.”

“There’s nothing fair about this process,” said Angel Perez, Director of Admission at Pitzer College. “You’re turning away tons of overqualified prospects.”

When asked how the recession affected admission trends this year, Perez said, “There is more anxiety, more phone calls about money, and less security that people feel in a school that costs more than 50,000 dollars. We’re very fortunate that we were able to commit the same amount of money to financial aid as last year.”

Scripps College is taking a similar stance towards maintaining the college’s commitment to financial aid. Laura Stratton, Acting Director of Admissions at Scripps College, said that financial aid will not be cut.

Scripps experienced the most significant drop in acceptance rates this year. The college accepted only 31 percent of applicants, compared to 42 percent for the class of 2012. Although the total number of applications only increased slightly, early decision applications increased significantly.

“Our acceptance rate dropped so sharply because there was an increase in applications, more students applied early decision, and we were looking for a smaller class this year,” said Stratton.

Stratton added that the recession is directly affecting the amount of visitors that come to see Scripps after they have been admitted.

“A lot of admitted students who have already visited once are not coming back to visit again,” she said. “Also, since financial aid is based on income and assets from 2008, we are seeing a lot of calls coming in, in terms of appeals.”

Harvey Mudd College saw a similar increase in early decision applications. The school admitted 31 percent of students, a rate that is about the same as last year’s. HMC also experienced an increase in the amount of early decision applicants, a trend that could demonstrate that college-bound seniors feel the increasing competitive pressure.

“You would think the recession would draw people to go to public school…but, in this state, people hear about budget cuts and how fewer people are going to be admitted, so it drives people back towards private schools as a result,” said Peter Osgood, Harvey Mudd’s Director of Admissions. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘this happened and people went in that direction.’ There’s all kinds of cross currents. It’ll take us longer to see what really happened this year.”

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