On May 1, millions of high school students across the United States made their final choices about where they would be attending college for the next four years. For a couple of hundred students, Sarah Lawrence College was that choice.
Over the past few years, SLC has gained a lot of momentum. Applications are increasing every year and, for the first time in several years, the college received a ranking in U.S. News and World Report after an admissions policy change several years ago left them in the unranked section.
Although deposits were still being counted at the time this article was written, all numbers are relative to what has been reported thus far and will be more accurately reflected in the summer.
The number of applications increased this year to 2,808 from 2,392 last year - a 17 percent jump, not only increasing the number of applications received but it is the largest amount of applications in the college’s history. The acceptance rate from last year remained stagnant this year, keeping it between 52 and 53 percent.*
The two states most represented are, once again, California and New York, respectively first and second. “What we’ve been seeing is there are handfuls of students coming in from many places all around the country,and the world,” Dean McKenna, Dean of Enrollment said. “And the thing about Sarah Lawrence is that you’re not going to get 20 students from one school, but rather one or two from a lot of different schools.”
“[When we were interviewing], we interviewed students from all over the country and all over the world, as far as India for me” said Zachary Martin ‘15, a senior interviewer. “It was really great speaking to students who came from all these different backgrounds and being a small part of the admission process.”
There were some added approaches to outreach for the incoming class. For the first time, over 1,000 high schools where visited by traveling staff members. Additionally, the school started hosting virtual panels. The panels lasted for one hour, moderated by an admissions counselor while tour guides and other student admissions workers spoke to prospective and accepted students, who were not able to visit the college, in real time . Dean McKenna said that they were a great success and that they will continue to be used in the future and in other ways.
“We hope to do this to meet high school students such as getting them ready for college interviews, getting them ready for college essays,” he said. “We think this will be great outreach.”
With so many to speak to, it is always important that students are being selected a right fit for the school. While there is no formula when selecting candidates for admission, there are certain qualities that make a potential SLC student.
“We’re looking for students that are actively engaged in their passions,” said Dean McKenna. “They’re going to be students who are not content with setting and meeting a list of required classes but who are creative, free thinkers and write what they’re working towards.”
Dean McKenna also spoke of the impact of rankings such as that of Princeton Review, the 2013 #1 Best Faculty in the country for example, have had on the college. “[The ranking] didn’t catapult us onto a larger stage, but it put out there for the world the kind of faculty we have. We already had a presence but it foregrounded what makes us so special.”
Another important aspect this year was diversity. President Karen Lawrence had emphasized that there would be more of an effort to increase socio-economic diversity among future incoming classes and Dean McKenna concurred that this held true for the incoming classes.
“We have students that need very little financial aid, then students who need some financial aid and so on and so forth,” he explained. “The awards levels seem to be more evenly distributed.”
Even with all the work to do as the college prepares for the incoming class, Dean McKenna underscored how pleased he has been with the students he has met thus far.
“If there is anything I can say, it’s that every single one I met are all really excited to come. They’re all really talented, all bringing great things to campus and, from what I’ve seen, are no different on paper than they are in real life.”
We congratulate the incoming class of 2019 and wish them the best of luck as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.
*Dean McKenna noted that U.S. News and World Report’s acceptance rate for Sarah Lawrence College for the academic year of 2014-2015 at 77.1 percent is 18 months behind.