Admissions Accepts 13 Percent of Applicants
Issue   |   Wed, 04/09/2014 - 01:33
Photography Editor Olivia Tarantino '15
Natalie King ’14 answers phone calls at the front desk of the Office of Admission. This year, the Office of Admissions admitted 1,103 out of 8,468 applicants.

The College has accepted 13 percent of applicants for the class of 2018, offering admission to 1,103 out of 8,468 students who applied this year.

Applications to Amherst rose by more than 6 percent this year, making this the second largest applicant pool in the College’s history. The Office of Admission received its highest number of applications in 2012, when 8,565 applicants applied for the class of 2016.

Earlier this year, Amherst accepted 169 students from the Early Decision pool for the class of 2018. At end of March, the College accepted 934 Regular Decision applicants.

The acceptance rate for Regular Decision applicants alone was 11.25 percent.

One thousand students were placed on the waitlist. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Tom Parker said that usually about 500 waitlisted students choose to accept their spots on the list.

However, he said that it is quite possible that even fewer students will remain on the waitlist this year.

“We were the second to last college to notify applicants about the result, so by then, students had already heard back from most schools,” Parker said. “It is likely that they do not need to stay on Amherst’s waitlist because they have another college to attend.”

Students who remain on the waitlist are selected based on the needs of the class once accepted students have decided whether or not to attend Amherst next Fall.

“There is certainly a waitlist within a waitlist,” Parker said. “For example, if the number of women is lacking in comparison to the number of men, we can repair that ratio with students from the waitlist, and vice versa. Likewise, if diversity is not what we would like it to be, or if the orchestra needs a certain instrumentalist, we look to our waitlist. We believe this system works really well in terms of ensuring that right kids go to the right schools. Not everyone gets into their top choice, but at the end of the day, the majority of people will end up at the appropriate schools.”

Parker added that the Office of Admission is especially proud of Amherst’s continued tradition of accepting many highly qualified students of color. This year, Amherst accepted 607 students who identify as students of color. Of those 607 students, 160 identify as African Americans; 169, Latino; 152, Asian American; 118, multiracial; and 8, Native American.

The College also accepted 116 non-U.S. Citizens. Parker said that Amherst attracts many international students because of its promotion of racial diversity and its need-blind admissions policy for international students.

“Non-U.S. citizens bring multiple perspectives to Amherst student body, and we are thrilled by that,” Parker said.
Parker said that the demographics of admitted students have shifted slightly in recent years. Last year, California had the greatest number of accepted applicants, and the class of 2017 has more students from California than from any other state.

This year, California was the top state one again, with more applications and acceptances than any other state. This year, 25 percent of admitted students come from California, Florida and Texas. According to Parker, the number of teenagers who live in the Northeast is declining, and this may be one contributing factor behind the demographic shift.

The Office of Admission does not know how many students are first-generation college students until the students matriculate. After financial aid for admitted students is sorted out, the Office of Admission will know the exact number of first-generation students.

However, the number of accepted children of alumni is easier to confirm. This year, Amherst admitted 86 children of alumni. Parker guessed that about 50 of them will matriculate, and said that he was very impressed with the admitted legacy students.

“Their academic credentials were unbelievable,” Parker said. “It is hard to deny that the educational accomplishments of Amherst parents carry over to their children. Also, these kids grew up in a very pro-education environment where it is typical, for example, for the dad to be an M.D. and mom to be a J.D.”

He said that ideally 450 students, including Early Decision students, will have deposited and committed to Amherst by May 1. If that is the case, then the Office of Admission will select 23 students from the waitlist so that a total of 473 first-years can join the College’s student body next academic year.

With the admission cycle for the class of 2018 coming to a close, admissions officers have begun planning for applicants to the class of 2019. The number of visitors to Amherst has been increasing steadily in recent weeks.

In May, the admissions staff members will attend a retreat, where they will brainstorm supplement essay topics as well as any possible changes to the application process for next year.

According to Parker, an important topic of discussion at the retreat will be the new supplement essay option that was used for the first time this year. This year, applicants had the option to submit a graded paper from one of their classes in lieu of a traditional supplement essay.

Parker said that admissions officers were surprised by the variation in writing levels that the papers displayed.

“There were times when I would be reading the essay and being awed by the poor level of writing, while the teacher still gave an A to the student,” Parker said. “It was a great opportunity to have a deeper look into the varying levels of writing education in high schools.”

He added that the graded papers might provide insight with regard to how First-Year Seminars could be restructured in order to attend to the needs of all writers.

The Office of Admission has not yet decided whether it will continue to offer the option of submitting a graded paper.
Some prospective members of the class of 2018 will get a preview of Amherst this upcoming weekend when about 130 admitted students will attend the College’s overnight open house.

Admitted students will have until May 1 to decide whether to accept the College’s offer of admission.

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