As May 1 comes around high school seniors all over the world are deciding where they will spend the next four years of their life. On March 24, Skidmore College’s admissions office mailed out the regular decision acceptance letters. In total (after both Early Decision I, Early Decision II and Regular Decision) Skidmore ended up accepting approximately 3,000 students, and 36 percent of the class 2019 applicants. This is a slightly smaller percentage than last year’s acceptance rate of 37 percent or just over 3,200 accepted students.
The reason Skidmore is accepting 200 fewer students is not because of the fact that application numbers were down this year by 1.7 percent. Last year was the biggest year in history for the total number of applications with a total of about 8,700. This year fewer than 8,500 applied, but this is still the second largest number of applications Skidmore has ever received.
The reason that fewer students were accepted this year is because, “we were looking for a slightly smaller class. Our target is 660-670 enrolled students and that includes 38-40 that will potentially be going to London for the London Program,” said Dean Mendes, Associate Director of Admissions. The current freshman class, class of 2018, has 728 students.
Last year’s class was larger then anticipated because of the number of students who ended up deciding to accept Skidmore’s offer of admission. “Because the yield was higher last year, and we had 728, we overspent on our financial aid” said Mendes. Due to this Skidmore has fewer financial aid dollars to spend this year, and therefore is looking to enroll a smaller freshman class in the fall. “Its hard to project yield,” said Mendes but last year the yield was 22.49 percent and based on the yield for last year and the previous couple of years the admissions office is hoping this year to yield about 25 percent. President Glotzbach in a meeting with The Skidmore News also emphasized, “we are trying to increase the yield.”
During the application process Skidmore saw a couple of national trends apparent in the application pool. First, there is a higher demand for financial aid. Second, the number of international applications increased. International students made up 22 percent of the applications this year and 14 percent of the admitted students are international students. Skidmore’s international applications are going up a little higher than the national trend as the admissions office is doing a lot of work to recruit more international students. The third trend that the admissions office noticed is that California has been one of the states they get the most applications from. “It’s the third largest state for us for applications even though it’s one of the farthest away,” said Mendes.
Now that acceptance letters have been sent out, Skidmore is working on yielding the accepted students. To help with yielding the accepted students, Skidmore hosted three accepted candidates days, and they hosted a Discovery Tour.
The Discovery Tour brought 136 students from underrepresented backgrounds to campus from April 8 to April 10. This included students from 24 different states, including Puerto Rico and some international students, including one from China, Serbia and South Africa. The student from China and Serbia were in school in the U.S. and the student from South Africa was out of school and in California, making it practical for Skidmore to bring them to campus.
The primary set of students who are invited to attend the Discovery Tour are those who are from underrepresented minority populations and those whose financial aid application suggests that they would most likely not be able to visit without financial support. Thus, “we fund them to visit,” said Mendes. Some international students from Canada, Mexico and Central America are also invited “because they are closer and it is affordable to fly those folks here,” Mendes also said.
Offering the Discovery tour fits in line with part of Skidmore’s “goal to have a diverse and inclusive campus, and to also provide opportunities for people to visit campus who might not be able to visit campus” said Mendes. During the program students spend two and half days and two nights on campus. For the two nights on campus they stay in the dorm of current student to help give them the full college experience. Many of the current students who hosted students were past Discovery Tour participants. “I had a pretty good experience and I wanted to help make another students experience just as great if not better,” said past Discovery Tour participant Maria Glander ’18, when asked why she decided to host a Discovery Tour student.
As part of the program they get to meet with faculty outside of classes, attended classes, have dinner with the president and other faculty as well as get to meet other current students and accepted students. These activities help the students to get a feel for Skidmore. Genesis Moran Guerrero ’18 was a part of the Discovery Tour program last year, and when she originally came for the program she was set on a different school, but the program made her realize, as she described it, that Skidmore felt “felt friendlier,” and ultimately this helped her to decide to attend Skidmore. For Glander on the other hand, what helped her ultimately decide on Skidmore was hearing “first hand a current student's experience at Skidmore and see[ing] it truly from their view.”
Skidmore is not unique in offering a program like the Discovery Tour, “I would say that just about all of our peer institutions and non peer institutions will run these types of programs,” said Mendes. The program offered at Skidmore does though have some unique aspects. “Ours is by far the largest of the liberal arts in the north east and that is basically because the administration supports us in inviting all these students and paying the fair to get them here,” said Mendes.
“Between the three accepted candidates days and discovery [tour], so the programs that we have had, almost 700 students will have visited this [April] month,” said Mendes. A couple hundred more accepted students also will visit Skidmore on their own and not as part of a program.
Accepted students who visit campus have a higher chance of yielding. In previous years, Skidmore has yielded about 60-72 percent of the Discovery Tour participants, and the admissions office is hoping to get in this ballpark once again. Last year 54 percent of students who came for an accepted candidates day ended up enrolling and 60 percent of students who came for Discovery Tour enrolled. Now the admissions office is in a waiting period as they wait for the May 1 deadline and they can see the exact number of students yielded.