180 Admitted Early to Class of 2020
Issue   |   Tue, 02/09/2016 - 23:51
Sophia Salazar ’18
Prospective applicants see main campus with tour guide Manuel Morales ‘16. The college informed 180 students of their acceptance through Early Decision in December, and will notify Regular Decision applicants in April.

Amherst College accepted 180 out of 454 Early Decision applicants to the class of 2020 this past December, according to the Office of Admission.

The accepted applicants are expected to comprise about 38 percent of the target of 472 members for the class of 2020, a 2 percent increase from last year, according to Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Katie Fretwell. Overall, the college received 28 fewer Early Decision applicants than last year.

Of the admitted students, 46 percent are women. Thirty-seven percent identify as students of color, with record-setting numbers of students identifying as black, Latino and Asian, and three students of Native American background.

“We have been increasing our outreach efforts with Native students,” Fretwell said in an email interview, citing an admissions program to fly in talented prospective applicants and the admissions office’s involvement in a college admissions workshop for Native American high school students. “We have never had a sizable number of Native American candidates in our ED pool, but I can confirm that our regular decision pool has a record number.”

The accepted students come from 152 secondary schools in 26 states and seven countries, including six who are not U.S. citizens. Fretwell noted a decline in the number of international applicants, especially from China, Canada and South Korea, but an increase in applicants from the mid-Atlantic region and California.

Fifteen students were admitted through the QuestBridge National College Match Program, which is designed to match students from low-income families to 37 selective partner colleges and universities, including Amherst.

Additionally, 33 incoming students are children of the school’s alumni.

The college also received 92 transfer applications for the current semester, of which 13 were accepted and 11 students enrolled. According to Fretwell, three of these transfer students are from community colleges, and one is a U.S. veteran.

“I am particularly pleased that among our ED acceptances are several outstanding musicians and the most diverse group of student-athletes I can recall,” Fretwell said.

The accepted students’ academic strength was similar to that of the class of 2019’s Early Decision students. The average ACT composite score of 32 is the same as last year, and the average SAT composite score is 2150, which is six points lower. Fretwell said that the number of applicants choosing to submit ACT test scores increased significantly, surpassing the number of students submitting SAT scores for the first time.

“One theory for this shift is that students are hearing more about the ACT as the SAT prepares for the launch of its newly designed test scheduled for rollout in March 2016,” Fretwell said. Applicants using the SAT for admission must submit scores from an SAT I test plus two additional SAT II Subject Tests, whereas applicants using the ACT could submit scores from a single ACT test, and Fretwell says students may have preferred the latter.

Fretwell said that the admissions and communications offices worked on short videos to communicate with and recruit prospective applicants over the past year. Applicants and accepted candidates to the Class of 2020 are also the first to have received the redesigned purple-and-green print publications used by the admissions office to publicize Amherst.

Following the results of a study on prospective students’ visits, Fretwell said that the admissions office is “exploring and implementing new ways to introduce Amherst to our visitors and expanding our training program for our tour guides who we know play such a critical role in our work.”

The admissions office is currently reviewing applications in the Regular Decision pool, which includes those deferred from Early Decision. Applicants who are accepted to the Class of 2020 will be notified in early April.