For the third consecutive year, interest in Colby College from the most talented college applicants has surged. Colby received 11,190 applications for one of the 500 spots in the Class of 2021, up 14 percent from last year and 117 percent from 2014.

The academic preparation and diversity of the applicant pool have also been improving dramatically. On all measures of academic preparation, from standardized test scores to class rank, the pool has grown significantly more competitive. And the number of students of color applying to Colby has increased almost 200 percent since 2014.

“The best students are attracted to working with Colby’s extraordinary faculty, who light up the classroom, engage in discipline- and world-changing scholarship, and connect students to research, global, and work opportunities that position our graduates to contribute to the world in meaningful ways,” said Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Matt Proto.

The broad appeal of a Colby education can be seen in the geographic mix of the applicant pool. The West Coast has become a leading source of applications to Colby, and the sharpest increase in applications has come from the South, where students in states like Florida and Texas are now applying to Colby in record numbers. This year Colby saw applicants from more than 135 countries, with significant increases from Asia and Africa.

Several recent initiatives have solidified Colby’s place among the top global liberal arts colleges. Last year the College announced the creation of the Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab, a multidisciplinary program to provide students with research, internships, and global opportunities around this complex challenge. And a recent grant will provide innovative ways for Colby students to understand environmental issues through humanistic disciplines.

New partnerships and affiliations with Maine institutions offer students unique experiences such as studying the geological formation of Allen Island and conducting genomics research at The Jackson Laboratory. Students engaged with The Jackson Laboratory also may choose to pursue Colby’s newest major, computational biology, which is unique among liberal arts colleges and prepares students for top graduate programs and careers in biotechnology and medicine.

In February Colby announced a gift valued at more than $100 million to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art. The gift also includes more than 1,150 works of art and will allow the College to build on its leadership in multidisciplinary education using art as a tool for learning and analysis. Colby’s deep commitment to the arts is also evidenced by plans to build a new center for arts and innovation.

Other capital investments include a multi-use development in downtown Waterville that will house new retail, community spaces, and student and faculty apartments; the opening in 2017 of a center to connect students to research, internships, global experiences, and postgraduate opportunities; new athletic fields to open in 2018, and a state-of-the-art athletic complex slated for 2020 completion.

“Colby is changing the way people think about liberal arts education,” said Proto. “And the best students from around the world are taking notice.”