Last week, the Amherst College Admissions Office sent out acceptance letters to 1,077 Amherst hopefuls out of a pool of 7,918 applicants. Overall, these numbers are strikingly different from last year’s admissions figures, with a 7.54 percent drop in the total number of applicants, resulting in a higher acceptance rate than in recent years.
It is unclear whether the decrease in the number of applicants is a consequence of the recent publicity the college received in connection with incidents of sexual misconduct.
“Had what happened in the fall not happened, I would have said it was normal volatility,” said Dean of Admissions Tom Parker. “We were very cognizant in the fall of how much publicity this thing garnered.”
One way to measure how much the recent scandals have affected potential applicants’ view of the College comes in the form of the Accepted Students Questionnaire, a survey that is filled out every year by all students to whom the College has offered spots. Parker acknowledges that if the responses to the questionnaire contain consistent mention of the sexual assault scandals, then it can be assumed that they had a negative effect.
There does not seem to be any pattern in terms of the demographics of students who failed to apply this year, even though one might have speculated that there would be a decline in the number of female applicants. Parker confirms that applicants were “down all across the board,” except for non-U.S. citizens, which could be because of the College’s need-blind policy for international applicants.
Regardless of the disparity between this year’s and last year’s number of applicants, “I don’t think there is any kind of earth-shaking news that will come out in May. It is a class of students that will seem pretty good in comparison to other years,” Parker said.
In fact, the Admissions Office sees this as another successful year in terms of the strength and diversity of the incoming class. The admitted students of the Class of 2017 include 600 students of color, including 163 Asian Americans, 158 Latinos, 150 multi-race students, 160 African American students and 4 Native Americans. The College boasts an increase in the number of non-U.S. citizens who applied, with a total of 116 who were finally offered admission. The group of accepted students is academically strong, with an average ACT score of 32, an average SAT critical reading score of 729, and average math and writing scores of 728.
Many prospective students will arrive this weekend for Admitted Students weekend, where they will catch a glimpse of life at the College as they consider their options for the next four years.