The number of applications for the Class of 2015 soared, up almost 23 percent over last year. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Parker Beverage attributed the increase to elimination of one essay on the Colby application, aggressive recruiting in the Southeast, West, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic states, and continued success in attracting applications from students of color.

Beverage also pointed to the strengths of Colby’s academic programs. “I think the College deserves this increase because of the great things we’re doing,” he said.

According to Beverage, the increase was among the highest in NESCAC, second only to Trinity College, which saw a 47-percent increase after it dropped the supplemental application entirely and required only the Common Application.

“Academic strength remained the same,” Beverage said of the 5,170 applicants as the admissions staff perused applications in February. “We’re making some tough decisions.”
He said he had been “ill-disposed” toward dropping the essay, but was pleasantly surprised to see that most students shifted their attention to the secondary essay questions that ask why an applicant wants to attend Colby. “I think they’re giving it more attention,” Beverage said. “The students have done more research.”

Applications from Maine and New England were up in absolute numbers over last year, he said, but not in the percentage of the overall increase. But the application numbers from other regions of the country were up markedly. The College also saw a significant increase in applications from students of color, from 657 last year to 831, continuing a dramatic rise in the past two years. That commitment attracted attention nationally in Black Issues in Higher Education magazine.

The challenge for admissions, Beverage said, is to anticipate what percentage of the larger applicant pool will choose Colby if accepted. “Predicting the yield of those—that is going to be difficult,” he said. “That’s definitely a new unknown.”