In light of the upcoming spring samplers, The Mac Weekly sat down with Jeffrey Allen, the Director of Admisisons, for a prelimiary glimpse into the Class of 2018 and a discussion on the intricacies of the admissions process.
TMW: What part of the admissions process are you in now? Did the timeline follow last year’s?
JA: The timeline followed last year’s, but there was some concern in the fall about the Common Application and its many issues and whether or not we would have to move back our early decision one deadline. We were able to proceed as we normally do with early decision one round, early decision two round and regular decision. We have extended all of our offers of admissions and financial aid to the students. Now we are seeing which students will accept our offers of admission.
When did you send out letters?
We mail decisions on March 17, but we notify international students by email first. That was a Monday, maybe two weeks ago.
Have you started hearing back from people?
The college should prepare for two large spring sampler programs. The second program might be quite populous. It’ll be a great challenge in many ways.
Is there anything that strikes you as unique about this class?
If you were to talk with any admission officer who has reviewed hundreds of applications, there are individual essays or students that really spoke to the admissions officers during the review process. I’m excited to meet and engage with the admitted students.
I will say this was the year in which the Common Application changed; we were reading applications that looked very different. From the college’s side, the way in which information is presented is very different. We no longer see the questions that students were asked, we just see the responses to the question.
How do you go about choosing the number of students to offer admission?
There is significant uncertainty. We have mathematical models that help us as we shape the class and help us understand how
many students may accept our offers of admission. However, the best mathematical model always has a standard level of error. We have past history to guide us.
What role does early decision play?
A fourth to a fifth of the class enrolls through early decision rounds.
What is the size of this class like?
We target a first year class of 500-520 and come somewhere in the middle of those two figures. The class of 2017 has 555 students. There have been other years where we’ve targeted an incoming class of 500 and enrolled 478. That speaks to the unpredictability of extending offers of admission.
Do you think it’s increasingly difficult to get into college?
Certainly the media spends a lot of time covering colleges like Macalester that are selective of even more selective colleges. But the vast majority of colleges admit more that 70% of applicants. We need to place the conversation into a national context. There are a lot of bright young men and women interested in an education at Macalester. It’s great to have a position of such strength.
What happens next?
May 1 is the national reply deadline. Students can make their decisions up until that point. If space remains available we have the opportunity to admit students from the alternate list. We offered around 400 students spots. There are many schools with lists that are significantly larger than ours. We only offer a spot for a student to be on the alternate list if we truly want to admit that student.