In the midst of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Colby received the largest and most competitive applicant pool in its history, reflecting a significant demand for the distinctive elements afforded by a Colby education. 

More than 15,700 students from around the world applied for admission to the Class of 2025, resulting in a 13 percent increase from last year’s record-breaking applicant pool of 13,922 and a more than 200 percent growth since 2014. This year’s applicants hail from all 50 states and more than 150 countries. Approximately 7,300 high schools are represented in the pool, and nearly 20 percent of applicants will be the first in their family to graduate college.

“The number of exceptional students from all backgrounds applying to Colby is a testament to the institution’s strategic evolution,” said Matt Proto, vice president for enrollment and communications. “Recent investments in sector-leading programs and facilities, as well as the College’s ability to deliver on our promise of an exceptional in-person education this fall, make Colby more attractive than ever.”

The unprecedented number of students applying to Colby is a testament to the interest in the distinctive elements of a Colby education. (Photo by Gabe Souza)

Colby was one of a small number of colleges and universities in the United States to welcome back all of its students to campus last fall. The College’s commitment to creating a safe campus environment through a bold and integrated approach—including a robust testing program, extensive health and safety measures, and a spirit of collective responsibility—allowed students to engage in work across the curriculum and take advantage of new programs in data science, biosciences and genomics, and environmental humanities.

A part of that experience has been students engaging with DavisConnects from the moment they arrive on campus, and, this year, after they graduated. Through its bold Pay It Northward initiative, the Colby community generated hundreds of new opportunities for Colby graduates and has become the model for other institutions. 

Investments by the College in downtown Waterville have brought students and private investment to the heart of the city, boosting civic engagement opportunities and economic growth. The new state-of-the-art Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center is the most advanced and comprehensive NCAA D-III facility in the country. And Colby has elevated its commitment to the arts with an upcoming arts collaborative downtown and the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, soon to break ground on campus. 

“What we’re doing at Colby matters to thousands of students across the globe who are eager to join our remarkable community,” said Randi Arsenault ’09, assistant vice president of admissions and financial aid. “As the world continues to take note of Colby’s phenomenal opportunities, and as our national and international standing rises, we’re attracting exceptionally accomplished and intellectually vibrant students poised to make important contributions to a world in need of their talents.”

Because of the pandemic, Colby made a wholesale change to its admissions process. A greater emphasis on digital outreach included hundreds of virtual visits by admissions staff to high schools and community-based organizations, as well as a plethora of virtual events showcasing Colby’s distinctive education. In addition to current student-led virtual campus tours, high school students from around the world were invited to attend spotlight classes with Colby’s world-class faculty scholars, panel discussions with current students and staff, and information sessions led by members of the admissions and financial aid team. 

Colby’s financial aid programs have been recognized as among the most generous in the country by the Chronicle of Higher Education, and they signal to high-achieving students that cost is not a barrier to attending Colby, even for low- and middle-income families. The Colby Commitment promises to meet each admitted student’s demonstrated financial need without loans. Families with a total annual household income of up to $65,000, close to the median household income across the United States, and typical assets can expect a parent or guardian contribution of $0. And Colby’s Fair Shot Fund ensures that the parent or guardian contributions from families earning up to $150,000 with typical assets are $15,000 or less. 

“Colby is committed to ensuring the most talented students from all backgrounds have access to the world-class education we provide,” Arsenault said. “We’re honored by the unprecedented number of students from around the world considering Colby, and we look forward to reviewing their applications in the months ahead.”